Police patrol Kabul streets as US general warns of attacks

August 18th, 2008 - 4:58 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Taliban
Kabul, Aug 18 (DPA) Thousands of police were patrolling Kabul streets Monday as the US commander in Afghanistan warned the public of possible attacks based on “credible intelligence” during the country’s 89th anniversary of independence from Britain. Most of the citizens in the capital city stayed home Monday and 7,000 security personnel closed several roads leading into the centre of the city.

Unlike previous years, when the celebrations were held in the city’s sport’s stadium in the presence of senior Afghan and foreign officials as well as thousands of Kabul residents, the location was changed to the heavily guarded presidential palace, a senior government official said.

“In order to minimise the risk for the people, we decided to hold the ceremony inside the presidential palace,” the official, who declined to be named, said.

Meanwhile, the top commander for US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan said in a statement that “credible intelligence” reports “indicate that the enemies of the people of Afghanistan intend to attack civilian, military and government targets during Afghan Independence celebrations.”

Taliban gunmen fired at a military parade in Kabul in April marking the 16th anniversary of the mujahideen’s victory over the Soviet Union invasion. Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other senior Afghan and foreign officials were present.

Karzai escaped unharmed, but three people, including a lawmaker, were killed and a dozen more were wounded.

Taliban militants have stepped up their attacks in and around fortified Kabul, where thousands of Afghan and international forces have their military bases.

Three Western female aid workers were killed in an attack last week outside Kabul, while the city has witnessed at least five attacks, including a rocket attack, against the only international airport since the beginning of this month.

A suicide bomber Monday morning detonated his explosive-laden vehicle outside a US military base in the south-eastern province of Khost, killing nine civilians and wounding 13 others, said Arsala Jamal, the provincial governor.

President Karzai condemned the attack and said that his country would remain free and independent despite the efforts by the “terrorists.”

“The enemies, by killing the civilians on our independence day, showed that they have enmity with Afghanistan’s freedom and can not see the happiness of Afghan people during their independence day,” Karzai said in a statement.

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