Karzai unhurt after parade attack

Minggu, 27 April 2008


The moment when gunfire broke out at the military parade

At least one person has been killed and 11 were hurt in an attack on a military parade in Kabul attended by President Hamid Karzai and other dignitaries.

Security forces whisked Mr Karzai away from the scene and hundreds fled as shots rang out. Two MPs were reported to be among the wounded.

The parade was a celebration to mark 16 years since the overthrow of the country's Soviet-backed rule.

A spokesman for the Taleban said the movement had carried out the attack.

Troops running for cover as shots ring out
The attack caused panic among troops at the tightly guarded event

He said six militants had been deployed near the parade with suicide vests and guns. Three of them were killed and the other three arrested, he added.

In a live TV address after the incident, Mr Karzai confirmed that there had been arrests.

"Fortunately Afghan security forces quickly surrounded them," he said. "Some of them were captured."

"Everything is calm, rest assured."

Mr Karzai has frequently been the target of assassination attempts in recent years.

Anthem playing

The parade, in central Kabul, was part of Afghan National Day celebrations, marking the capture of Kabul from the Soviet-backed government by the mujahideen in 1992.

Afghan map

The national anthem was being played when the attack started.

Live TV showed President Karzai standing on a huge stage surrounded by a crowd of MPs, cabinet members, military commanders and foreign diplomats.

Automatic weapons were fired into the crowd and two people, apparently MPs, were seen slumping into their chairs.

The US and UK ambassadors and the Nato military commander were among dignitaries bundled away by security forces.

Live TV coverage of the event was cut off shortly afterwards, and the state channel switched to music.

Sirajudin, a police officer at the scene, told the Associated Press news agency he saw two people firing AK-47 assault rifles from a house toward the area of the stage.

At least one explosion followed the gunfire, and security forces returned fire.

Soldiers dressed in ceremonial garb were seen running from the scene.

The BBC's Alastair Leithead in Kabul says there was a sense of panic in the streets, with people unsure how serious the incident had been.

The event, which had been shrouded in tight security for days, was cancelled soon afterwards.

Police and army are now in control of the area.

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