Social media users react with delight to pictures of Hamid Karzai meeting a panda

Afghan president stepped down in September last year, handing over to Ashraf Ghani

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The Independent Online

Social media users in Afghanistan reacted with delight to photographs of former president Hamid Karzai hanging out with a panda.

Pictures of the former president, whose second term ended in September last year, were doing the rounds on social media accounts as the image trended in the troubled country.

The photos were taken as Karzai visited the Chengdu region of China, where he was speaking at a forum hosted by the Chinese Institute of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Amid the humour, Afghanistan remains locked in violent instability. A United Nations report last year claiming that civilian casualties had risen – caught in crossfire between the Taliban and other extremist groups.

Earlier this week armed men claiming to belong to the Taliban, an extremist islamic organisation that an almost decade-long international intervention has failed to dislodge, besieged a upscale neighbourhood in the country’s capital Kabul.

The four attackers were eventually killed by security forces with no civilian casualties.

The warm weather has seen an uptick in armed attacks as the traditional fighting season begins. Earlier in May a Taliban attack on a Kabul guesthouse left 14 dead.

Afghanistan remains one of the world’s poorest countries, boasting the highest infant mortality in the world (according to statistics from last year) and an economy struggling to rebuild itself following decades of war.