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U.S. Military Warns Of Attacks On Afghan Independence Day

An August 16 bomb blast targeted the convoy of Afghanistan's education minister, who escaped unharmed.
Thousands of extra police have been stationed in Kabul amid fears of possible terror attacks during celebrations marking the 89th anniversary of the country's independence from Britain.

In a rare public warning, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan, Jeffrey J. Schloesser, said that insurgents are planning to attack civilians, military, and government targets in the country.

At least nine Afghan civilians were reported killed and 13 others injured early this morning in a suicide attack outside a U.S. military base in eastern Khost Province.

Local officials said they prevented a second attacker from detonating his car at the base.

'Be Vigilant'

The U.S. warning recommended "all Afghans to be vigilant at large public events and other locations where crowds gather and to report suspicious behavior to security forces."

RFE/RL Radio Free Afghanistan correspondents in Kabul say there are no signs of public gatherings or celebrations thus far in the Afghan capital.

A previously announced gathering in Kabul's sports stadium featuring an address by Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been canceled.

Correspondents say security has been visibly stepped up in the city, with police searching vehicles and closing some roads and streets for security reasons.

The Interior Minister said on August 17 that it has deployed some 7,000 police to safeguard the capital.

'Not Able' To Prevent Attacks

Jameel Jumbish, a Kabul-based former police commander, told Radio Free Afghanistan that the country's security forces are not yet capable of defending the people from increasing insurgent attacks.

"The security sector does not yet meet all the necessary requirements [to provide full security]," he said. "For instance, the prevention of suicide attacks is not an easy and simple task, and Afghanistan's current security sector is not able to prevent such attacks."

According to Afghanistan's NGO Safety Office, insurgent attacks have increased by 50 percent in the first half of 2008 from the previous year.

Militants have in past months leveled deadly attacks in Kabul on a luxury hotel and, most recently, the Indian Embassy.

In a major public event in the capital on April 27, insurgents opened fire on a large stage when Karzai, cabinet ministers, lawmakers, and foreign diplomats were sitting.

Karzai escaped unharmed, but three people were killed in what is considered a very brazen attack.

with wire service reports
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