Explosions Welcome Afghan “Peace Jirga”

hamid-karzai-afghanistanInsurgents attacked the opening of a peace conference intended to end almost a decade of war in Afghanistan, with explosions and gunfire heard just outside the “jirga‘s” venue. The coordinated attacks took place as President Hamid Karzai was delivering his opening address to the delegates made up of more than 1,600 leaders.

Reports said security forces battled insurgents minutes after rockets were fired near a university in the capital city of Kabul, where the three-day peace summit is taking place. A NATO official said several insurgents were shot but it was unclear how many and whether there were casualties.

Karzai is using the conference to introduce his programs that he hopes would convince Taliban fighters to lay down their arms and end a nine-year insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attacks, with the insurgents’ spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, saying four suicide attackers were tasked to “sabotage and destroy” the peace jirga.