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Afghan ex-president survives bomb, blames Pakistan - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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KABUL (Reuters) -A former Afghan president who heads a commission trying to encourage Taliban defections was slightly wounded in a suicide car bomb attack on Sunday that officials said killed two bombers and two civilians.

Sibghatullah Mojadidi, who also chairs the upper house of parliament, or Senate, was being driven on a busy main road when attackers detonated a car laden with explosives near his vehicle.

He appeared at a news conference with bandages on his hands which he said covered burns caused by the blast and blamed neighboring Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) for the attempt on his life.

“We had received intelligence from six channels that some individuals had entered Afghanistan to kill me by any possible means,” he said.

“Our biggest enemy today is Pakistan’s ISI,” he said adding that the network “was behind all of the attacks” carried out by Taliban and other militants in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry rejected the charge.

“We condemn such attacks and loss of innocent lives wherever they happen,” said spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam. “These are baseless allegations and we reject them completely.

Mojadidi’s comments follow repeated complaints by Afghanistan’s government that militants plan and organize attacks from sanctuaries inside Pakistan.

Pakistan, which officially ended its support for the Taliban after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, says it does all it can to stop cross-border movement by militants.

Two vehicles in Mojadidi’s convoy were damaged in the blast about 500 meters (yards) from Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel, which completely destroyed the car containing the explosives.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said two suicide attackers and two civilians were killed.

Earlier, Zalmai Oryakhel, the senior police officer for the area, said police suspected an al Qaeda militant allied to the Taliban guerrillas carried out the attack.

Afghanistan has been rocked by a series of suicide attacks aimed at foreign troops and government officials in recent months. Civilians have borne the brunt of the attacks.

The Taliban, waging an insurgency against President Hamid Karzai’s government since their overthrow by U.S.-led forces in late 2001, have taken responsibility for most of the attacks.

Mojadidi served as president of the first Mujahideen (holy warrior) government that replaced a Soviet-backed regime in 1992.

For the past two years, he has headed a commission trying to persuade militants to give up their insurgency. The government says hundreds of rank and file Taliban fighters have joined the reconciliation program, but the insurgency has intensified.

It has killed more than 1,500 people since the start of last year, the bloodiest period since the Taliban’s overthrow.

Last Wednesday, Karzai called for more Pakistani cooperation in fighting militants after Islamabad derided Kabul’s accusations that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar was in Pakistan.

Earlier, Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf said relations with Kabul were growing tense and Karzai was “totally oblivious” to efforts by elements in his government to malign Pakistan.

The tension has continued despite a visit by President George W. Bush to both allies in the war on terrorism in early March aimed at increasing cooperation against militants.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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