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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Karzai unhurt after parade attack
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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.
He said they had not targeted Mr Karzai directly, but wanted to show how easily they could get access to such events.
The BBC's Alastair Leithead in Kabul says the fact that they were able to get so close despite such tight security is worrying for both the government and the international community.
The Taleban spokesman 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.
Later UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown phoned Mr Karzai to express his relief that he was safe and reaffirm his support for the Afghan government.
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.
I saw an explosion and a puff of dust to the left of the parade and then heard the crackle of small arms fire from all directions Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles UK ambassador
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.
UK ambassador Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, who was in the front row, told Reuters news agency: "It was coming to the end of the 21-gun salute. I saw an explosion and a puff of dust to the left of the parade and then heard the crackle of small arms fire from all directions.
"After some hesitation my bodyguard frog-marched me away."
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.
Our correspondent 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.
Story from BBC NEWS: 2008/04/27 09:52:04 GMT

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