14 Jul 2011

Emotional scenes at Karzai funeral

6:35 am on 14 July 2011

There were emotional scenes in southern Afghanistan, as President Hamid Karzai led thousands of mourners at the funeral of his half brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai.

The weeping president climbed into the grave to kiss his brother's forehead before appealing to the Taliban to stop their violent uprising.

''My message for (the Taliban) is that my countryman, my brother, stop killing your own people,'' said Mr Karzai. ''It's easy to kill and everyone can do it, but the real man is the one who can save people's lives.''

The BBC reports security was tight, with helicopters overhead and many troops deployed.

Ahmad Karzai was the head of the Kandahar provincial council and one of the most powerful men in the south.

Critics said Ahmad Wali Karzai was a warlord mired in corruption who was openly involved in the drugs trade and had a personal militia at his disposal.

He was shot dead by his own head of security on Tuesday, a family friend who killed almost immediately afterwards.

The Taliban say the killer was a sleeper agent and that their intention was to make it more difficult for the government to exert control over the region.

The funeral was held in the family village of Karz, 20km from Kandahar.