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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More