Security clampdown for burial of Afghan vice president

Monday, July 8, 2002

JALALABAD, Afghanistan -- Vice President Abdul Qadir was buried Sunday with full military honors a day after he was gunned down in an attack that Afghans fear may bring new instability to a nation struggling to build peace after decades of war.

An estimated 10,000 people followed Qadir's body as it was transported on a gun-carriage from Jalalabad's White Mosque to Amir Shaheed Gardens in the city center. Afghan troops in full uniform marched in the procession.

As the body, wrapped in a green, red and black Afghan flag, was lowered into the grave, a Pashto-language poem read over a loudspeaker hailed Qadir as "a unique man" and "a hero of Afghanistan." Seven shots were fired into the air, and mourners wept and chanted his name.

Qadir, who also served as minister of public works and governor of Nangarhar province, died Saturday in a hail of bullets after two gunmen opened fire on his vehicle as it was leaving his office in Kabul. His driver, who was also a son-in-law, was killed too but the gunmen escaped.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai will call for foreign help in cracking the case if local authorities are unable to make progress in their own investigation, Afghan television reported Sunday.

State-run television said two men had been detained for questioning after they were stopped at a Kabul checkpoint in a car similar to the one used by the killers for their getaway.

Qadir's body was flown here to the Nangarhar capital from Kabul aboard a helicopter provided by the international peacekeeping force following a prayer service attended by Karzai and thousands of mourners.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

Qadir was the most prominent ethnic Pashtun in the government after Karzai himself.

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