Two rockets were fired on Monday at competing inauguration ceremonies of the elected Afghan president and his rival in Kabul, hurting two people as per international news reports.
In a massive development, the oath-taking ceremony of Afghanistan President Ashraf on Monday was targetted when an explosion was heard close to the Presidential palace. Ghani's former spokesperson - Najibullah Azad, who was present at the venue has confirmed that five rockets were fired at a place 2-3 km away from the Presidential palace in Kabul. He added that there were no casualties and that Ghani himself continued with his speech.
"It was not a blast - suicider blast or any other kind. Five rocket-firing occurred, which were fired from close to Kabul city. It hit the place which was 2-3 kilometers from the Presidential palace and no casualty at all," said Azad to Republic TV adding, "It happened quite at the end. There were a couple thousand people. We all heard the sound and the ceremony continued according to the schedule."
Moreover, a video from the event shows Ghani touting that he was not wearing a bullet-proof vest saying, "I’m not wearing bulletproof clothes. I'm wearing ordinary clothes. This chest is ready to be sacrificed for Afghanistan and my people,” slamming the Taliban, while continuing to address the event amid the rocket firing.
Ashraf Ghani has been sworn in for the second term as the President of Afghanistan following a months-long political crisis due to controversy over the election results. Ghani was trying to broker a deal with his rival Abdullah Abdullah who cried foul over the results and threatened to form a parallel government. Last month, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) declared incumbent Ghani as the winner of the presidential elections - with Ghani securing 50.64 per cent of the total votes polled, estimated as more than 1.8 million, and Abdullah got 39.52 per cent of the votes.
The Taliban has also denounced the results calling the election “fake and staged”. Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesperson of the Taliban, said in a statement that it rejects the “meaningless appointment” and considers it a failed effort at “throwing dust” in the eyes of the nation. This development comes amid the break down of the peace accord signed by Taliban with the United States that laid out the conditions-based path to the full withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan over the course of 14 months.
The Taliban ended the partial truce with the Afghanistan government on March 2 and announced to resume its 'operations' in the country. Days after the peace deal was signed between the United States and the Taliban, the latter demanded the release of 5000 prisoners which Afghan President Ashraf Ghani refused. Ghani said that the prisoner swap could be included in the agenda of intra-Afghan talks but cannot be "prerequisite for talks”.