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Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai Pleads for Peace in the Streets of Kabul

An U.S. Army investigation found that the convoy accident in the capital of Afghanistan triggering violent riots against the U.S. was due to a mechanical failure. Meanwhile President Hamid Karzai vowed to stand up against the agitators. Two analysts discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

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  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Hundreds of Afghan troops patrolled the streets of Kabul today to prevent further unrest. Yesterday, violent anti-U.S. and anti-Western protests erupted after a U.S. military vehicle was involved in a deadly traffic crash during morning rush-hour in Kabul's northern suburbs.

    The heavy cargo truck was part of a U.S. convoy traveling from Bagram Air Base, the main U.S. military facility, into the capital, when its driver lost control. The truck plowed into a dozen civilian cars at an intersection, killing at least five Afghans.

  • (through translator):

    AFGHAN CITIZEN An American convoy came, and I tried to park my car on the side, when they hit my car and turned it upside down.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Coalition spokesman Tom Collins today explained what triggered the crash.

  • COL. TOM COLLINS, Coalition Spokesman:

    An initial investigation has determined that a mechanical failure of the vehicle's brakes is the cause of this tragic accident. The convoy was on a logistics mission in support of our efforts to help the Afghan people.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Yesterday's riots were the worst since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. Within minutes of the crash, angry mobs began stoning the convoy and then headed into the center of Kabul, where some looted, ransacked and set fire to several buildings, including a compound belonging to the aid group CARE International.

    From among the hundreds of protesters who took to the streets came chants of "Death to America." Afghan and U.S. troops said they fired warning shots into the air to control the crowds, but some witnesses claimed U.S. troops fired on civilians.

  • AFGHAN YOUNG MAN (through translator):

    People were killed by U.S. troops. They shot two people; they were American.

  • AFGHAN YOUNG MAN:

    They are killing. They're killing people.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Eleven people were killed; nearly 140 were injured. Afghan President Hamid Karzai yesterday pleaded for calm.

    HAMID KARZAI, President of Afghanistan (through translator): We will recognize as the enemy of Afghanistan these people who do these things. You should stand up against these agitators and not let them destroy our country again.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    The outbreak in Kabul follows an upsurge of fighting in the south over the past month between a revived Taliban and U.S. and NATO troops. Some 350 people have been killed, including more than a dozen civilians, in a coalition air strike on suspected militants in Kandahar last week.

    Currently, some 22,000 U.S. troops and 8,500 other foreign soldiers make up the coalition forces in Afghanistan. And in the coming months, NATO peacekeepers are expected to take over more security duties from a shrinking number of U.S. troops, especially in the south.