Accessibility links

Breaking News

Afghanistan: Attack Disrupts Kabul Military Parade

Soldiers take up positions after shots fired at military parade in Kabul (AFP) Afghan officials say three people have been killed in an attack on a ceremony in the capital, Kabul, attended by President Hamid Karzai and other dignitaries.

Two different militant groups have claimed responsibility for the attack, in which one lawmaker was killed.

The ceremony was part of Afghan National Day celebrations, marking the capture of the capital from the Soviet-backed government by the mujahedin in 1992.

Government ministers along with leaders of political factions were seen ducking for cover after gunfire sounded at the celebration. Live television coverage of the event was cut off shortly afterward.

Mohammad Saleh Saljoqi, a lawmaker at the ceremony, told AP that two rocket-propelled grenades landed near the dignitaries and there was continuous automatic-rifle fire.

The firing appeared to have come from a building located several hundred meters from where the president, cabinet members, and foreign diplomats were seated.

Lawmaker Abdullah Suleimankhail told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that member of parliament Fazlrahman Samkani died from injuries sustained during the shooting.

Health Minister Mohammad Amin Fatemi earlier told AFP that two people, including a 10-year-old boy, were killed in the attack and nine others wounded, including two legislators, four soldiers, and several security guards.

Security officials told RFE/RL that six suspects had been detained.

Following the attack, Karzai appeared on national television for a live address and confirmed that there had been arrests.

"Today, on the 16th anniversary of the mujahedin victory, enemies of the Afghan people tried to disrupt the ceremony and cause disorder and terror," Karzai said. "Fortunately, Afghan security forces quickly surrounded [the attackers] and arrested some of them. Now everything is calm."

Speaking to Radio Free Afghanistan by telephone, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said six of the group's militants had launched the attack. He also said three of the attackers had been killed.

Musaad Mustafa, a spokesman for Hizb-e Islami, a faction led by former Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, also claimed responsibility for the attack. He said the attackers fired rockets during the ceremony.

In an interview with Radio Free Afghanistan, legislator Shokrya Barikzai accused former mujahedin of carrying out the attack. "An attack [against Karzai] took place on martyrdom day, which marks Ahmad Shah Mas'ud's death. And today's attack occurred on mujahedin day," she said. "Some mujahedin think that they have been put aside from [the political] arena."

Karzai has survived several assassination attempts since he came to power after U.S.-led and Afghan forces toppled the Taliban in late 2001.

On September 9, 2007, a security scare interrupted the president during a speech marking the sixth anniversary of the killing of Mas'ud, the famed anti-Taliban military leader. Afghan security stopped a crowd of people from forcing their way into Kabul's sports stadium during Karzai’s speech, which ended abruptly as he was rushed away after gunshots and fighting broke out.

A number of former mujahedin, such as Karzai’s security adviser, Mohammad Qasim Fahim, have repeatedly demanded greater power in Karzai’s government. Barikzai pointed out that Taliban fighters and other militants could not have access to the heavily protected area where the April 27 ceremony was held.

The attack came despite tight security for the anniversary. For days, Kabul had been ringed by checkpoints with security forces searching vehicles. The area where the parade took place had been blocked by troops, tanks, and armored personnel carriers.