Ahmed Wali Karzai, the half brother of Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai, was assassinated at point blank range in his own home by a close family associate. The New York Times reported that the motivations of the shooter, Sardar Mohammed, remained unclear. The newspaper stitched together witness accounts to describe the incident, which occurred around 11 a.m. yesterday:

Mr. Karzai was shot twice in the head at point-blank range. A provincial official, Haji Agha Lalai, was in the next room when it happened and helped carry the slain governor on a makeshift stretcher to a car and accompanied him to the hospital. "I was holding him and I was not very sure he would survive,” he said. "It was confirmed in the hospital that he was dead." The assailant shot him with a pistol from the front, he said.

Mohammed, relays The Wall Street Journal's version, "had been a trusted confidante of Mr. Karzai for seven years" and served as commander of security posts in the village of Karz. The Los Angeles Times, which described Karzai's brother as a provencial "kingmaker," spoke to an anonymous official who said that the shooting occurred as he was receiving guests at his compound: "Every day, dozens of supplicants turned up to ask him for help or favors, and turbaned tribal elders would routinely come to discuss business or ask for help in mediating disputes."

The Associated Press elaborates on the specifics of the shooting by noting that the assassin went to Karzai's compound to sign some papers:

Tooryalai Wesa, the provincial governor of Kandahar, identified the assassin as Sardar Mohammad and said he was a close, "trustworthy" person who had gone to Wali Karzai's house to get him to sign some papers. As Wali Karzai was signing the papers, the assassin "took out a pistol and shot him with two bullets - one in the forehead and one in the chest," Wesa said.

All four news outlets cited say that the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack although they seemed to express some doubts as to whether or not the group was just looking for an easy propaganda boast, as The Los Angeles Times put it.