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Afghan President Calls Al-Qaida Deputy 'Enemy of the Afghan People'


Afghan President Hamid Karzai has denounced al-Qaida's deputy commander, Ayman al-Zawahiri, describing the Egyptian-born extremist as an enemy of the Afghan people. Al-Zawahri issued a new video this week calling on Afghans to fight U.S.-led coalition forces providing security in the insurgency-beset country.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused the al-Qaida commander of being "the source of misery in Afghanistan" for more than a decade.

"He is one of those individuals who has brought massive suffering to the Afghan people. He was one of those who destroyed our mosques and our schools, and our vineyards and orchards," he said. "He is first the enemy of the Afghan people, then the enemy of the rest of the world."

The president's comments came a day after al-Zawahiri released a new videotape urging Afghans to rise up against U.S. and coalition forces.

The terrorist leader's statement was apparently recorded shortly after a U.S military vehicle accidentally hit and killed several Afghan civilians several weeks ago, sparking widespread anti-American and anti-government rioting in Kabul.

During the three-minute video, al-Zawahiri challenges Kabul University students to join the fight against what he calls foreign invaders.

The tape is the sixth video statement al-Zawahiri has released this year. Three others have come from al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

Both men are thought to be hiding out somewhere along the rugged border dividing Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The terrorist leaders are still reportedly closely allied with fugitive Taleban forces trying to overthrow Afghanistan's U.S.-backed central government. The Taleban ruled Afghanistan, and gave al-Qaida sanctuary, before themselves being driven out by U.S.-led forces in 2001.

The latest videotape comes as the coalition intensifies its counterinsurgency operations throughout Afghanistan's southern and eastern provinces.

Thursday, U.S. officials confirmed four American soldiers had been killed a day earlier, during fighting with suspected Taleban insurgents in eastern Afghanistan.

In the past three months, more than 500 people, mostly militants, have been killed in clashes scattered around the country.

U.S. Military leaders say heavy fighting in southern Afghanistan, the Taleban's traditional stronghold, is expected to continue for several months.

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