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Afghan president Ghani displays nerves of steel as EXPLOSIONS interrupt his swearing-in (VIDEO)

Afghan president Ghani displays nerves of steel as EXPLOSIONS interrupt his swearing-in (VIDEO)
Afghanistan’s newly re-elected president, Ashraf Ghani, was nonchalant as the sound of explosions interrupted his inauguration speech in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Hundreds of people gathered for the event at two venues inside the presidential palace. Ghani was inaugurated for his second term as Afghanistan’s president. His ceremony was attended by foreign officials, including US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and NATO forces commander Scott Miller.

At one point, however, something clearly went wrong. A video published on social media by India’s ANI news agency shows Ghani’s inauguration speech interrupted by loud bangs nearby, resembling the sound of explosions or artillery fire. The incident sent the crowded venue into panic. Some people tried to flee the scene, as crouching figures can be seen running behind the stage where Ghani was standing.

The president himself demonstrated self-control, remaining on the stage and patiently waiting for the noise to subside, while showing no signs of worry as he urged the gathering to calm down with a hand gesture.

He later told the audience not to be afraid of “an explosion or two.” The president also stated he would sacrifice his life for Afghanistan if necessary, showing he had no bulletproof vest on.

Two rockets reportedly hit the edge of the presidential compound. According to some reports, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack, which allegedly left at least two people injured.

Ghani also announced that he would make further announcements on the Taliban’s demand for the release of 5,000 of its members on Tuesday. Earlier, he refused to do so unless given a guarantee that they would not “return to violence.”

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Afghan authorities are now struggling to form a reconciliation council and start talks with the Taliban militants as part of an agreement reached by Washington and the insurgent group in late February. However, the rivalry between Ghani and former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah could further complicate the situation if two centers of power are formed. Abdullah, who disputed the results of the election held in September 2019, declared himself Afghanistan’s rightful leader and staged his own swearing-in ceremony on Monday.

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