Karzai urges youth to defy Taliban

March 23, 2014 - 10:35:16 am

KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai yesterday urged his country’s young people to defy the Taliban in honour of the two young children shot dead in a militant attack on a Kabul hotel.

Four teenage attackers gunned down nine people yesterday evening at the city’s Serena hotel, including journalist Sardar Ahmad, his wife and two of his three children.

The attack on the supposedly safe venue, favoured by foreign visitors, was the latest violence ahead of the April 5 election when Afghans will choose a successor to Karzai in what will be the country’s first-ever democratic transfer of power.

Ahmad’s infant son remained in intensive care yesterday being treated for bullet wounds to the head, chest and leg.

In a speech marking the start of the school year Karzai urged Afghan students to honour the slain children by getting educated and leading the country forward.

“Two of our children that were killed the day before yesterday at the hands of terrorists...would be happy to see that though the terrorists have killed them, millions of children are going to school with a smile,” Karzai said.

“These millions of children, our lion sons, are a caravan of success that is moving forward, a caravan of development, a caravan of the dignity of Afghanistan.”

But Ahmad’s nephew Torak Mohammad criticised Karzai, who last month described the Taliban as “brothers” in an interview with Britain’s Sunday Times.

“If Karzai calls Taliban brothers, he should come to our house and see the four coffins, see the bodies of the kids,” Mohammad said yesterday. The Taliban, who claimed Thursday’s attack, have vowed a campaign of violence to disrupt the presidential election.

The polls of 2004 and 2009 were badly marred by violence and another bloodstained ballot would damage claims by donors that the costly intervention in Afghanistan since 2001 has made progress in establishing a functioning state.