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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Karzai Points to Taliban Threat On Afghan Independence Day

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghanistan celebrated its independence from British rule Sunday with a military parade and a display of national dresses on the grounds of a stadium once used by the Taliban for public executions.

Taliban leader Mullah Omar, meanwhile, called on the people to join the militants in their attempts to oust the government of President Hamid Karzai and its foreign backers.

Karzai told thousands gathered at Kabul's city stadium that Afghanistan is once again threatened by a resurgent, Taliban-led insurgency, and urged the people to focus on education.

The holiday marks Afghanistan's liberation from Britain in 1919, following the third Anglo-Afghan war.

"Again our land is under attack from our enemies," Karzai said, in reference to the Taliban-led insurgency. "They want to stop the development of Afghanistan."

Karzai delivered his Independence Day address in a stadium that once hosted public executions during the Taliban's rule, which ended with an invasion by U.S.-led forces in late 2001. On Sunday, it enjoyed a more colorful atmosphere, with a parade of Afghanistan's military forces and a display of the country's many national dresses.

Despite the presence of nearly 50,000 foreign troops in the country, violence has risen sharply during the last two months. This year more than 3,700 people -- most of them militants -- have died, according to casualty figures provided by Western and Afghan officials.

Mullah Omar, the elusive Taliban leader who has been in hiding since the regime was ousted, called on the people to join the militant movement.

Omar said in a statement that the militants battling Afghan and foreign troops "must win the hearts of the good people."