News / Asia

Explosions, Gunfire Mar Opening of Afghan Peace Jirga

Multimedia

Audio
Sean Maroney

The streets of Kabul echoed with insurgent gunfire and explosions late Wednesday morning as representatives from all over Afghanistan met for the first day of the National Consultative Peace Jirga.

Afghan organizers say the goal of the peace conference is to reach a consensus for a road map to reconcile with Taliban insurgents and others fighting against the government and coalition forces. But insurgents did not want to talk.

As President Hamid Karzai addressed the assembly, a rocket explosion outside the massive tent constructed in western Kabul briefly interrupted him. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

The 1,600 delegates reacted calmly as the president noted that this was not the first time they had heard this type of thing. Police later said the explosion was caused by a rocket fired near the jirga campus.

Following the attack, Mr. Karzai continued his speech and took a moment to address Taliban insurgents in their native language of Pashto.

He said the Taliban is welcome in their own homeland, but he urged them to not hurt Afghanistan or themselves. He said all Afghans are brothers, and they should approach each other in peace. He also promised to listen to their advice on how to build Afghanistan.

The president also said the jirga has given Afghans tremendous hope, and that in the next couple of days, the delegates will have a chance to deliver a message of peace and friendship, not only for Afghanistan, but for the rest of the world.

Following Mr. Karzai's speech, jirga organizers rushed members of the media out of the area after another rocket whistled overhead and exploded within 100 meters of the tent.

Sounds of sporadic gunfire rang out in a nearby neighborhood, as Afghan helicopters circled overhead.

Taliban officials said they had sent four, heavily armed suicide bombers to target the jirga.

Government officials said security forces shot and killed two suicide bombers trying to infiltrate the assembly wearing burqas, and they arrested a third.

Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Zamary Bashary also said Afghan forces had surrounded a home near the conference site where the remaining militants were hiding.

The jirga is Afghan-led, but foreign diplomats, including the top U.S. military commander in the country, General Stanley McChrystal, attended the opening ceremony.

The United Nations' special representative for Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, also attended and spoke with reporters about the Taliban attack on the gathering.

"The Taliban are not sitting inside the tent. They are the ones who should be sitting one day, once they've given up on this type of violence and once they've accepted at least one or two rules of the game," said Mistura.

Prior to the conference, the Taliban dismissed its importance, calling the current Afghan government "powerless" and demanding that all foreign troops leave Afghanistan.

Critics of Mr. Karzai's government also say the jirga does not address the concerns of ordinary Afghans.

Despite the violence, delegates are meeting in smaller committees, where they will work to find a consensus for peace during the next couple of days.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid