Afghans celebrate victory over Soviet forcesApril 28th, 2009 - 11:25 pm ICT by IANS
Kabul, April 28 (DPA) Afghan President Hamid Karzai hosted a lunch in his fortified presidential palace on Tuesday to mark the 17th anniversary of his country forcing out the Soviet forces after 13 years of struggle.
The celebration went ahead as thousands of security forces patrolled Kabul city.
Karzai had cancelled all public events this year following a brazen attack by militants during last year’s military parade in Kabul city that left three people, including a lawmaker, dead and several others wounded.
Wary of a repeat of last year’s attack, thousands of Afghan security forces and intelligence agents ringed the capital city by checkpoints, searching vehicles for the past several days, but Afghan officials later decided to cancel the ceremony.
A short statement issued by Karzai’s office said that the president decided to dedicate the money, which was allocated for the parade, to the victims of recent earthquake and flood in the country.
Instead Karzai hosted the lunch in his palace for former guerrilla leaders, who fought the Soviet troops in 1990s, members of cabinet, UN and NATO officials and foreign ambassadors.
In last year’s attack, three militants barricaded in an old guesthouse some 200 metres from a stage, where Karzai and his cabinet members were standing for a 21-gun salute.
Karzai was whisked away by his bodyguards, while cabinet ministers and foreign ambassadors scurry for cover. Afghan police and army forces, who had sprung out for inspection, fled the arena in chaos as shots rang out.
The three Taliban militants were killed minutes after the attack in an encounter with security forces.
In 1992, Afghan Mujahideen toppled the Soviet-backed regime in Kabul, ending their 13 years of struggle that began with the Soviet invasion of the country in 1979. Since then the country observed a national holiday, celebrating the victory with military parades.
The Soviet army left after around ten years of intense fighting, but guerrilla warriors plunged the country into a bloody civil war over power.
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