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6 Arrested in Assassination Attempt on Afghan President - 2002-09-06


Authorities in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar have arrested six people during an investigation into Thursday's assassination attempt on President Hamid Karzai.

A spokesman for Kandahar governor Gul Agha Sherzai told reporters preliminary evidence indicates that fugitive Taleban leaders may have plotted the attack. The spokesman also says U-S officials have been asked to assist in the investigation.

One of the attackers was identified as a recently hired security guard who came from a former Taleban stronghold in southern Helmand province. The guard was wearing an army uniform and was shot dead by U-S bodyguards protecting Mr. Karzai's convoy. Two other people were killed. An American bodyguard and Governor Sherzai were slightly wounded.

Meanwhile, President Karzai, who was unhurt during the shootout, flew back to the capital Kabul early today (Friday) to keep an appointment with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov.

Just hours before the assassination attempt, a powerful car bomb exploded in the central business district of Kabul, killing 26 people. Officials in Kabul have arrested at least one person for questioning.

There have been no claims of responsibility for either attack, and it is not yet clear whether the two incidents were related.

The attacks have led to international calls for increased security in Afghanistan. Currently, the International Security Assistance Force is deployed only in Kabul.

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