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Archive for Monday, September 10, 2007

Police open fire at speech by Karzai

September 10, 2007

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— Sensing unrest outside a packed stadium, Afghanistan's president abruptly cut short a speech Sunday as police fired shots into the air in an attempt to restrain a crowd trying to enter, officials said.

Shortly after being rushed off the podium, President Hamid Karzai said security in Afghanistan was deteriorating and renewed a call for negotiations with Taliban militants.

The sound of gunfire rang out as Karzai abruptly ended his speech at Kabul's central sports stadium, sending a murmur through the crowd inside and prompting some in the audience to start to flee.

Officials told the crowd to remain calm, and said someone had thrown stones against a metal door. But Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, a Defense Ministry spokesman, said police fired into the air to prevent a restless crowd outside the stadium from entering. Azimi said the 15,000-person stadium was already full. No injuries were reported.

Karzai had been speaking at a memorial ceremony for anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massood, who was killed in an al-Qaida suicide bombing two days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

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