Asia

Afghanistan: Rockets 'aimed at Kabul elders meeting'

Afghan policeman keeps watch at a vehicle checkpoint on the first day of the loya jirga, or the traditional assembly, in Kabul
Image caption Security around the four-day gathering has been intense

Two rockets fired towards an area where tribal elders are meeting in the Afghan capital, Kabul, missed their target, officials say.

It is unclear who fired the rockets but one civilian was injured.

The four-day meeting, or loya jirga, is taking place amid tight security after the Taliban claimed it had obtained security plans for the gathering.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai addressed the meeting on Wednesday, advocating a security pact with the US.

He called the loya jirga to discuss reconciliation with Taliban insurgents and the future of the strategic partnership between Afghanistan and the United States.

The first rocket landed several kilometres away from the meeting venue but the second rocket was closer, exploding close to the Intercontinental hotel, about 1km north-west of the gathering in western Kabul.

One eyewitness, Nezamuddin, told the BBC how he witnessed one of the rockets landing: "A rocket hit here - when we saw a roadside worker was wounded, I called the police and they evacuated him to hospital."

Intelligence officials say the two rockets were aimed at the loya jirga.

Houses searched

Although security in Kabul has been intense for the gathering, it has been dogged by security breaches.

On Monday the Taliban said that they had obtained a confidential government security plan for the jirga.

The government denied the document was the official security plan but correspondents say it may bear a resemblance to previous drafts of the strategy.

On the same day a suicide bomber was shot dead in an attempted attack on the tented site in Kabul where 2,000 people were to meet.

Correspondents say that all roads to the meeting area are blocked and there are far more checkpoints in usual in the capital.

Houses close to the gathering have been searched and thousands of police and plain-clothed security personnel have been deployed alongside mobile police patrols and intelligence service vehicles.

Extra forces have also been deployed on the outskirts of Kabul - people are unable to enter the city without showing their identity cards.

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