Taliban increase attacks ahead of Karzai's inaugural ceremony

08:15, November 18, 2009      

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Taliban insurgents have launched a fresh round of attacks on military and civilian targets in Afghanistan, ahead of President Hamid Karzai's inaugural ceremony scheduled on Thursday.

Karzai would take oath as President of the post-Taliban Afghanistan for the second term on Nov. 19 amid tight security. The day has been announced public holiday in the capital city in efforts to avoid untoward security incidents.

On Monday, three rockets fired by Taliban militants hit a crowded bazaar in Kapisa province 80 km northeast of capital city Kabul, killing 10 Afghan civilians and injuring 29 others, a press release of Interior Ministry said Tuesday.

A French military officer who witnessed the attack said the target was a meeting between Brig. Gen. Marcel Druart and tribal elders, who were discussing a major French offensive in the Tagab Valley to stabilize security there.

In a separate incident Monday night, Taliban militants launched two rockets at the military part of Kabul's international airport, but did not cause any injuries, said Mohammad Hasif Jabarkhil, the commander of Police in the airport.

A day earlier on Sunday, rockets were also fired by militants, with one of them hitting inside the airport perimeter causing no casualties.

In a latest major attack in Kabul, a suicide bomber struck a military convoy near a large U.S. military base on eastern outskirts of Afghan capital on Friday morning, injuring at least three foreign troops and three Afghan civilians, according to Syed Ghafar Syedzada the Deputy to Kabul police chief.

After the attack, Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban purported spokesman, claimed responsibility and warned of more attacks.

In two separate incidents on Monday, Afghan police detained a total of 15 suspects on charge of involvement in carrying out anti-government activities in and around Kabul.

The attacks cast shadow on the inaugural ceremony of President Hamid Karzai, who was announced winner of the Afghan presidential election early this month. In his first press conference after his election victory, Karzai called on Taliban militants to lay down arms and join the peace process.

According to intelligence wire leaked in London late last week, Karzai government and the international coalition forces were already in the process of "strategic reconciliation" with some members of so-called Quetta Shura of Taliban. But no progress has been made so far, as Taliban have laid strict conditions which include the pull out of foreign troops for holding talks with Afghan government.

"Such steps (should be taken), which show that foreign forces are (ready) leaving Afghanistan," Wakil Ahmad Mutawakkil, the Foreign Minister of ousted Taliban regime, said Friday in an interview, according to media reports.

Before his election victory, Karzai had said that after its induction, his new administration will hold talks with the insurgents. But the Taliban have been rejecting holding of talks with Afghan administration, saying it had no authority in presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan.

Separately, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Monday evening that London planned to host an international conference to set a timetable for transferring security responsibilities to Afghan forces from next year, even as he prepared to send a further 500 soldiers to Afghanistan by the end of the month.

On the same day Monday, U.S. President Barak Obama, who was visiting Shanghai as part of a nine-day Asian tour, said al Qaida remains the biggest threat to the United States.

Obama is nearing a decision on whether to send up to 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, as requested by Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. military commander in the militancy-plagued central Asian country.

Source: Xinhua
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