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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Karzai Survives Attack; Blast Hits Kabul

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- President Hamid Karzai survived an assassination attempt Thursday when an Afghan security guard fired at his car as it was leaving the governor's mansion here, witnesses said. The attack came just after a huge explosion in the capital that police said killed 10 people.

The Kandahar governor, Gul Agha Sherzai, was wounded in the attack, and witnesses saw him bleeding from the neck.

The attacks in Kandahar and Kabul came less than a week ahead of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, and at a time when Afghanistan was remembering Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massood, killed Sept. 9, 2001, in an assassination attempt blamed on Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network.

Karzai was in Kandahar, the former spiritual headquarters of the Taliban, to attend a wedding celebration for his youngest brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai.

The Afghan president's American bodyguards opened fire in response to the shooting, and three people were killed, including one who was wearing an Afghan military uniform.

Lieutenant Tina Kroske, a spokeswoman for the U.S. military at Bagram air base, the United States' military headquarters in Afghanistan, confirmed that U.S. special operations forces opened fire on the attackers, killing three people.

It was not known if the Kandahar governor was wounded by gunfire from the assailant or from shots fired afterward.

After the attack, Karzai returned to the governor's guesthouse, where he is staying, and said he was fine.

"As he arrived here he assured people that he was fine," said BBC reporter Lyse Doucet, who witnessed the attack.

The shooting occurred shortly after a powerful car bomb rocked a busy market area in the center of Kabul on Thursday, killing and wounding scores in the bloodiest attack in the Afghan capital since the fall of the Taliban.

Reports about the number of casualties were confused, but police said 10 people were killed and dozens wounded.

Witnesses said a smaller explosion had drawn crowds to the area when the car bomb -- apparently a taxi -- exploded in front of a building containing shops selling televisions and satellite dishes -- all forbidden during the Taliban's hard-line rule. The second floor of the building housed a small hotel.

"This bomb was inside a taxi," said police spokesman Dul Aqa. "It was a very, very strong explosion. We can't say exactly who was behind it but we know the last bombs were al-Qaida and Gulbuddin."

He was referring to former Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who issued a call for jihad, or holy war, this week to drive U.S. and foreign troops including international peacekeepers from Afghanistan. Some officials have speculated that he may have formed an alliance with remaining al-Qaida and Taliban leaders, although no clear evidence of this has surfaced.

About 65 people were rushed to one hospital, with an unknown number taken elsewhere.