Afghan Leader Dodges Assassination Bid Afghan President Hamid Karzai is said to be safe after an apparent assassination attempt. Gunfire erupted during a military parade marking the 16th anniversary of the end of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
NPR logo

Afghan Leader Dodges Assassination Bid

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/89979813/89979812" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Afghan Leader Dodges Assassination Bid

Afghan Leader Dodges Assassination Bid

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/89979813/89979812" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

LIANE HANSEN, host:

From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Liane Hansen.

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai is safe after an attempted assassination early today at a ceremony in Kabul.

(Soundbite of gunfire)

HANSEN: Gunfire broke out at the ceremony, marking the 16th anniversary of the end of the Soviet invasion. We reached New York Times correspondent Carlotta Gall who was in Kabul. She's now in Kandahar. Carlotta, you were watching this live on TV?

Ms. CARLOTTA GALL (Correspondent, New York Times): Like many people in the country who have televisions, it was live in national TV and it was quite strange because it wasn't immediately apparent what was going on. And you could see two people fall or dive off the stage, and then suddenly Karzai wasn't there anymore. He'd been whisked in a flash out the back door.

And a lot of the other dignitaries were standing around, not quite sure what to think. But they were all there - the cabinet, the two vice presidents, both the British and the American ambassadors. So, then they started to move to the exit and then there was a big explosion that you could hear in the distance and then you could hear gunfire and security guards starting to fire back.

HANSEN: Have authorities said anything about who might be responsible?

Ms. GALL: Well, I think the Taliban themselves have called - we've talked to them already and they're claiming responsibility. The gunmen seemed to be on the top of a roof of a hotel in a nearby street. And Afghan security forces did do a raid on the hotel, and there was a gun battle and they say they've killed three and arrested a number of others.

HANSEN: Was anyone in the crowd injured?

Ms. GALL: Yes. Two - we know of two parliamentarians from southeast of Kabul who were injured. There's one person who's been killed and 11 injured

HANSEN: Karzai has survived several attempts on his life, and this one comes after he was criticizing American forces there about arrests of the Taliban, and that discourages them from putting down their weapons. Where does this assassination attempt move this story and things in Kabul?

Ms. GALL: Well, it's difficult because Karzai also, you know, has put out a statement since the interview saying he was working in harmony with the foreign forces and totally appreciates the battle they're doing against the Taliban. So, it's clear he needs them even if he criticizes their tactics.

And he does rely almost entirely on them for security. He has their own Afghan bodyguards and the Afghans were in charge of security today at the parade. But it's clear that that wasn't quite enough and that gunman got extraordinarily close to a big national event where all the Afghan senior officials were gathered.

So he really does have a huge problem that Taliban could come into the city and attack in this way. So I think it shows the weakness of the government to keep the insurgents at bay.

HANSEN: New York Times correspondent Carlotta Gall. We reached her in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Thank you, Carlotta.

Ms. GALL: Thank you.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.