Tuesday, April 29, 2008

US Installed Afghanistan Regime Probes Parade Attack

Afghanistan probes parade attack

Karzai was whisked away and appeared on TV shortly after to say that "everything is calm"

Afghanistan is investigating how elements from the Taliban movement could get within 500 metres of president Hamid Karzai and other top leaders to carry out a brazen attack.

At least six people, including a member of parliament and three attackers, were killed and nine others wounded in the assault near the presidential palace on Sunday.

The assault was an embarrassment for Afghan authorities as the event was supposed to showcase the army's growing strength.

The Taliban movement said it had launched the attack to show it had the power to strike even the nation's biggest annual military parade.

Karzai immediately announced an investigation to find out how the armed group breached security to hammer bullets into the back of the stage where he was seated with a host of Afghan and foreign dignitaries as well as launch rockets.

"First, it will investigate the plot and identify those behind the attack ... and second it will find out where the problem in providing security lay," General Abdul Rahim Wardak, the Afhgan defence minister, told reporters.

The inquiry would comprise the ministries of defence and interior, the intelligence agency and the presidential security guard, the general said.

The incident

Gunfire and explosions erupted after Karzai had taken the stage after an inspection of troops in what was meant to have been the largest annual parade of Afghanistan's military.

Hundreds of people, including government ministers and foreign dignitaries, fled the celebration.

Al Jazeera's James Bays said the event was one of the key events in Afghanistan's calendar every year.

"Its called the Mujahidin Day. It marks the victory of the Mujahidin over the Soviet Union, some 16 years ago," he said.

Karzai sped off in a motorcade in the immediate wake of the attack, which continued for a further 15 minutes.

He appeared on television for a live address shortly after the incident, assuring the public that the incident was over and that some of the attackers had been caught.

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

"Everything is calm, rest assured," he said.

Taliban warning

Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr said that the Taliban had warned that they would carry out some sort of operation to disrupt the ceremony.

"To them, this ceremony should not be taking place because they are against the government and the foreign forces," she said.

"They said the target was to give them a message that they are not safe. We have to point out that there was a very tight security around the venue of the military parade and [still] they managed to infiltrate."

The security breach comes only two months after an attack on the Serena hotel in the diplomatic area of Kabul, she said.

"There have been reports that the government has not been able to control even 30 per cent of the Afghan territory and now with this attack it is not clear how the Taliban managed to infiltrate the security guards of the president."

Expected attack

Prince Ali Seraj, a political analyst, told Al Jazeera that the attack should have been expected by the authorities in Afghanistan.

"When you have all the dignitaries and the president of the country and all the ministers and ambassadors gathered together at one place, such an attack should have been expected and I believe that the entire perimeter should have been fortified with police and security forces," he said.

"From what I heard from my people, attackers were in military uniform. It is difficult to distinguish one soldier from the other, if you are not acquainted with each other.

"A group of people dressed in military uniform can infiltrate any one of the operations and be able to do what they did. But I think tighter security and identification cards should have been in place on a day like this."

Seraj said that the attack on the event was designed to gain publicity, given that ambassadors, diplomats from the United Nations and Afghan ministers were in attendance.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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