Militants attack as Afghan peace conference starts

Security forces battled insurgents including at least one suicide bomber outside a national peace conference just as President Hamid Karzai opened the three-day meeting today in the Afghan capital.





A Nato spokesman said several insurgents were shot near the venue, and Afghan police said a suicide bomber detonated explosives, killing himself. There were no immediate reports of other casualties in the fighting, including among participants of the conference.



The multi-pronged attack started within minutes of Karzai beginning his opening address to some 1,600 dignitaries gathered for the conference, known as a peace jirga, in a huge tent pitched on a university compound in the city.



The Taliban, which had earlier threatened to kill anyone who took part, claimed responsibility for the attack in a phone call to The Associated Press.



Karzai was hoping that the jirga would bolster him politically by supporting his strategy of offering incentives to individual Taliban fighters and reaching out to the insurgent leadership, despite skepticism in Washington on whether the time is right for an overture to militant leaders.



About 10 minutes into his speech, Karzai was briefly interrupted by an explosion outside, which police said was a rocket fired from the west of the Afghan capital. Karzai heard the thud, but dismissed it, telling delegates, "Don't worry. We've heard this kind of thing before."



Soon afterward, an AP reporter nearby heard a loud explosion and saw smoke rising from a second apparent rocket attack that struck about 100 metres from the venue.



AP reporters gathered at a hotel near the venue to cover the conference via video link heard bursts of gunfire to the south of the venue.



Police officer Kamaluddin said a suicide bomber detonated explosives a few hundred metres from the tent, and that shooting between insurgents and Afghan forces was being reported. The only reported casualty was the bomber.



Security forces were rushing through the area and helicopters were flying overhead.



Some insurgents were shot, but reports were unclear as to how many, said a spokesman for international forces in Afghanistan, Lt. Col. Joseph T. Breasseale.



Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said Wednesday that a group of four suicide attackers disguised in Afghan army uniforms had opened fire in an attempt "to sabotage and destroy this peace jirga."



Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary said Afghan forces were surrounding a house about 500 metres from the conference venue where militants were apparently holed up.





Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk