Karzai escapes assassination attempt by Taliban

April 27th, 2008 - 3:18 pm ICT by admin  

(Third lead)
Kabul, April 27 (Xinhua/DPA) Gunfire and explosions rocked a ceremony attended by Afghan President Hamid Karzai here Sunday morning but he was unharmed. The Taliban said three of its fighters “were martyred” in the audacious attack. Karzai, who left the venue abruptly, said in a short speech on the national television shortly after the attack that “enemies” wanted to “disrupt the ceremony of the 16th anniversary of the nation but they failed”.

The president said the law enforcing agencies had arrested “some suspects”. “All the rest is OK, and everything is on track,” he said.

“Six of our mujahideen attacked the ceremony and in the shootout three of them were martyred and the other three after the attack fled the area and are in a safe place,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told DPA.

Live broadcast by Afghan state-run TV showed presidential bodyguards shielding the area around the stage where the president and his cabinet members were sitting.

A Xinhua reporter saw the president leave the venue under the protection of his guards. The reporter said he saw blood spattered on the spot.

Two parliamentarians were among the injured but the exact number of casualties was not yet known, the national TV said.

Several people were seen running from the spot. After the gunshots, Afghan soldiers rushed to take on the attackers.

The ceremony was held to mark the 16th anniversary of the mujahideen victory against the former Soviet-backed communist regime in Afghanistan, which collapsed in April 1992.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed told Xinhua on telephone from an unknown location that his group was responsible for the incident.

He said their purpose was to disrupt the ceremony for which the government had been beefing up security for two months.

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