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Afghan President's Brother Says Survives Ambush

Ahmad Wali Karzai heads the provincial government council in southern Kandahar Province.
KABUL (Reuters) -- A brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said he was ambushed on the road to Kabul by Taliban insurgents, who killed one of his bodyguards in the early-morning attack.

Ahmad Wali Karzai, head of the provincial government council in southern Kandahar Province, told Reuters he was roughly an hour's drive from the capital in the volatile district of Sarobi at the time of the assault.

"I am OK and luckily survived the ambush," he said in a telephone interview, adding he considered the attack on the road to eastern Nangarhar Province was aimed at him.

"[They] killed one of my bodyguards during an exchange of fire, but I managed to get out," he added.

The younger Karzai also escaped unscathed from an attack on government buildings in his home province last November that killed six and wounded at least 40.

The Taliban, toppled from power by U.S. and Afghan forces in 2001, has been gathering strength in recent years, particularly in the south and east of the country.

U.S. commanders are rushing thousands of reinforcements to take them on in what Washington considers a make-or-break year for a war it now views as its main security priority.

The Defense Ministry said on May 18 that three Afghan National Army soldiers opened fire towards shops in the Nangarhar provincial capital, Jalalabad, killing three shopkeepers and wounding a fourth. It gave no further explanation.

Those involved have been arrested and are being interrogated, and the Defense Ministry promised strong punishment.