KABUL, Afghanistan — A well-coordinated assassination attempt on President Hamid Karzai by suspected Taliban insurgents at the Afghan national day military parade in central Kabul has turned into a moment of national embarrassment for the government, which has been pressing to take over responsibility for Kabul's security from foreign troops.
Three people were killed Sunday in the brazen assault, ruining what was supposed to have been a proud moment for Afghan security forces. The ability of the attackers to get so close to Karzai, who escaped unhurt, suggested they had inside help.
The dead included a tribal chief and a member of parliament who were in the reviewing stands near Karzai, and a 10-year-old boy caught in the cross-fire as militants and security forces aimed at each other, officials said. Eleven people were wounded, officials said. Several suspects were arrested later.
The attack sent officials and foreign diplomats scrambling for cover in the stands and hundreds of soldiers running off the parade ground in disarray. Karzai was whisked out the back exit and the ceremony was abandoned.
The military, police and intelligence services, all of them involved in security for the ceremony, quickly began laying blame on one another for failing to thwart the attack. The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying its aim had been to disrupt the ceremony and show that it could strike in the heart of the capital.
"We cannot say Afghanistan is free," Zabiullah Mujahed, a Taliban spokesman, said when contacted by telephone. "Afghanistan is still under the domination of infidels."
It was not clear how the gunmen had managed to bring weapons so close to the parade ground, but the Taliban claimed to have received help from within the government forces.
Karzai has survived at least three previous assassination attempts, but this was the first in the capital.
He appeared on television within an hour of the attack and told Afghans that everything was fine.