India condemns ‘dastardly’ bid on Karzai’s life

April 27th, 2008 - 7:21 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi/Kolkata, April 27 (IANS) India Sunday condemned the “dastardly” attempt to assassinate Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul and expressed “relief” that he was not hurt in the attack that killed one person and injured 11. Speaking in Kolkata, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee also “underscored the need for the international community to show zero tolerance for terrorism”, according to the external affairs ministry in New Delhi.

Unidentified gunmen, suspected to be Taliban insurgents, fired mortars and bullets at Karzai and other dignitaries in the spectator stand at a military parade in front of the Eid Gah Mosque for the Mujahideen Day, the national day that celebrates the victory of the Afghan resistance to the Soviet occupation of the 1980s.

The Afghan president was whisked out and quickly left the scene in a convoy of black armoured vehicles as spectators scrambled for cover and security personnel opened fire, according to the Afghan state television, which was showing the ceremony live.

Scores of cabinet members, parliamentarians, ambassadors and other guests were assembled in the stands. American Ambassador Bill Wood also left unhurt, according to Gen. Zaher Azimi, a military spokesman, in Kabul.

This was not the first time Karzai was targeted by the Taliban militants. The India-educated Karzai has survived at least three previous assassination attempts. This was, however, the first time an attempt was made on his life in the Afghan capital.

“The enemy of Afghanistan, the enemy of the security and development of Afghanistan, tried to disrupt the celebration and tried to create fear,” Karzai said on the national television within an hour of the attack.

“Fortunately, the Afghan security forces surrounded them and some of the suspects were arrested, and, thank god, now everything is all right and the people of Afghanistan should be calm and confident,” he said.

India is concerned over the escalation in Taliban-led violence in Afghanistan and sees the latest incident targeting Karzai as yet another attempt to undermine stability in that country.

Nearly a week ago, Indian national Mohammed Nayeem was kidnapped from the western Afghan province of Herat. He is safe and efforts are on to get him released quickly, official sources said in New Delhi.

India has already announced its decision to send more security personnel to Afghanistan to ensure the safety of Indians working there and has made it clear that it will not capitulate to terrorists as it continues its reconstruction work in that country.

Nayeem was abducted within a fortnight of a suicide bomber blowing himself up next to an Indian road-making team in Afghanistan, killing two Indian workers and their Afghan driver April 12.

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