KABUL, Afghanistan – NATO troops shot and killed a relative of President Hamid Karzai in a nighttime raid in the Afghan leader’s home province of Kandahar, family members said Thursday.
The incident is likely to exacerbate strained relations between Karzai and the Western military over civilian casualties. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates this week offered a personal apology over the deaths of nine young boys in a helicopter-borne strike by U.S. forces earlier this month. Karzai had previously rejected an apology from the top Western commander in Afghanistan, U.S. Gen. David H. Petraeus, as insufficient.
The man killed in the Dand district of Kandahar province was identified by relatives and district officials as Yar Mohammad Khan, who was in his 60s. His exact relationship to the Afghan leader was not immediately clear. Some reports described him as a cousin, but many Afghans use the term to refer to a variety of members of their extended families.
The NATO force initially identified the slain man as the father of a suspected Taliban leader who was the target of the raid. It subsequently backed off on that statement but continued to refer to him as an “armed individual” who was shot because he was deemed a threat to troops carrying out the raid.
Karzai had no immediate public comment.
New security chief for Ciudad Juarez
MEXICO CITY – A retired Mexican army officer widely credited with restoring law and order as the top police official in Tijuana was named Thursday to a similar post in Ciudad Juarez, the country’s most violent city.
Julian Leyzaola, who was a lieutenant colonel, was appointed public safety secretary by Ciudad Juarez Mayor Hector Murguia, who was elected last July. He takes over security in a city where fighting between drug cartels has sent killings skyrocketing, with more than 6,400 people slain since late 2006.
Leyzaola, who served as Tijuana’s police chief for a year before being promoted to public safety secretary in 2008, won plaudits in Baja California for employing an iron hand against drug traffickers and purging the force of hundreds of dirty cops.
He earned a reputation as incorruptible and was credited by many residents with helping bring investment back to Tijuana. However, critics accused Leyzaola of brutality, saying he took part in the torture and beatings of suspect police officers.