In what is being called the most violent day in Afghanistan since the Taliban was ousted, a car bomb explosion in Kabul today that killed at least 15 was followed by an assassination attempt on President Hamid Karzai in Kandahar in which three were killed and the governor of Kandahar was injured.
“This assassination attempt in Kandahar, 300 miles south of Kabul, and the horrific explosion in the center of Afghanistan’s capital city show an urgent need to significantly expand international peacekeeping forces within and beyond Kabul,” said Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal.
The assassination attempt was carried out by a man wearing an Afghan soldier’s uniform who started shooting at Karzai’s car outside Kandahar Governor Gul Agha Sherzai residence. One of Karzai’s Afghan bodyguards took the man down. US Special Forces who are assigned to protect Karzai then moved in, opened fire and whisked Karzai away to safety. The bodyguard, the assassin and a third person were killed in the attack. Karzai was uninjured in the attempt, Sherzai sustained a bullet wound to the neck which was said to be non-life threatening.
Meanwhile, shortly before the assassination attempt, a car bomb exploded in the busy central business district of Kabul near the Information and Culture Ministry. Thousands of people fled the powerful blast, which was said to have been preceded by a smaller explosion, and approximately 15-20 people were killed. Deputy Police Chief Mohammed Khalil blamed al Qaeda, the Taliban and an exiled former guerilla chief and Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar for the blast, according to Reuters. Earlier this week Hekmatyar called for jihad, or holy war, against American and other foreign troops in Afghanistan, according to CNN.
These incidents are the latest in a series of violent events that have occurred throughout Afghanistan in recent months. The Feminist Majority, Karzai, UN officials, and women’s rights and human rights organizations continue to urge a full-scale expansion of peace troops to ensure security and enable reconstruction to move forward. With the leadership of Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted unanimously early last month to support international peace troop expansion, increased funding for reconstruction, and funding earmarks for the Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the independent Human Rights Commission. Last week, the Bush administration indicated possible support for expansion of international peace troops.