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Afghan President Survives Assassination Attempt

Aired September 5, 2002 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We're getting information right now. Our Ryan Chilcote just went into a briefing and is able to tell us more about what he was able to find out.
Ryan, were you able to confirm that this was an assassination attempt on Hamid Karzai?

RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can't tell you whether it was an assassination attempt on Hamid Karzai or not. I can't tell you there was an assassination attempt, whether it was directed at the governor of Kandahar, or whether it was directed at the president of Afghanistan. It's still unclear.

What is clear is these two gentlemen were together outside of the governor's house here in Kandahar. They were just outside of a car, trying to get into a car together, when according to an eyewitness I just spoke with, he was about 10 yards away. An AMF soldier -- that would be a soldier friendly to the U.S. government -- a soldier that belonged to the new Afghan government -- opened fire on the governor of Kandahar. He apparently has been wounded in his neck. Apparently, it is thought to be a slight wound, that he was brazed in it.

According to this eyewitness, that gunman, the Afghan soldier, was then gunned down himself. The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, was surrounded by special forces security and whisked away. And the governor of Kandahar was brought here to the Kandahar air base, where he is currently actually right near me here on the base, receiving medical attention.

Back to you.

KAGAN: So this is extra concerning in that you are saying the gunman actually was someone who was supposed to be there protecting these politicians?

CHILCOTE: That's correct. I just spoke with an eyewitness. He said that he was 10 yards away from the attack. He describes himself as a member of the Afghan government. He said that he saw, as a soldier, an Afghan soldier, wearing a uniform, open fire on the governor and he saw him shoot him in the neck. That's absolutely correct.

KAGAN: And this falls in line with reports we have heard of particularly disturbing, of huge concerns of the security, especially around Hamid Karzai.

COOPER: That's correct. Very serious security around the president. It is difficult to understand how this could happen. Just to give you an example, I'm here on the Kandahar air base. And today, the president of Afghanistan, President Karzai, flew in, and there was a lockdown of movement on the base. This is at Kandahar air base, where more than 5,000 U.S. troops are stationed. And even here, there was very heightened security. The president went from here into Kandahar.

I understand from people downtown in Kandahar, that there was very serious security there as well. Very difficult to understand how this could happen. But perhaps the information that these shots came from an Afghan soldier wearing a uniform of the new Afghan government, perhaps that's the key to exactly how this could have happened. Difficult to guard from your own.

Back to you.

KAGAN: Yes, if that's an inside job, that would clearly have access. To review, the governor who was injured is being treated. Where is President Karzai right now?

CHILCOTE: We do not know where President Karzai is right now. We understand immediately following this attack, he was surrounded by U.S. special forces. Those are the men that normally protect the president and give him protection. And we do not understand where he is right now, although I have been told by U.S. forces that he is safe and out of harm's way.

KAGAN: We will checking back with you. That is Ryan Chilcote, reporting to us from Kandahar on this assassination attempt that took place against the governor there.

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