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Suicide bomber tests Afghan security at loya jirga meeting

Afghan forces killed a suicide bomber trying to enter the site of high-level loya jirga meeting that starts Wednesday. Recent attacks and a report that the Taliban obtained security details of the meeting have Kabul on edge.

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An Afghan policeman keeps watch near the site where a suicide bomber was killed near the location of the Loya Jirga, in Kabul. More than 2,000 Afghan leaders are converging on Kabul for a high-profile, four-day loya jirga, or grand assembly, further testing security capabilities of a city already on high alert after several recent scares.

Ahmad Masood/Reuters

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More than 2,000 Afghan leaders are converging on Kabul for a high-profile, four-day loya jirga, or grand assembly, further testing security capabilities of a city already on high alert after several recent scares.

On Sunday evening, the Taliban announced that they had received a copy of the security plan to protect Wednesday's loya jirga, at which Afghan leaders will discuss strategic relations with the US and negotiations with the insurgency. NATO and Afghan officials rejected the Taliban’s claim, saying the security plan published on the group's website was a forgery.

On Monday afternoon, Afghan police killed a suicide bomber trying to enter the area where the loya jirga will be held. 

Following a number of significant attacks and assassinations inside Kabul, the warnings have much of the city on edge. Still, those involved in the loya jirga say that threats are commonplace in Afghanistan and few Afghan officials seem to place much weight on them.

“In our province, tribal elders are always threatened or warned about giving suggestions or information to the government, but it’s our duty to help the country and we’re not going to be stopped by fear,” says an elder from Helmand Province who has already arrived in Kabul, and asked to remain anonymous for security reasons. “The enemies of Afghanistan are using every chance to make problems for the people, but now this loya jirga will be conducted.”

Afghanistan has held only 15 to 20 loya jirgas in the past 300 years, six of which took place in the past decade. These meetings call together leaders from around the country to decide major issues such as adopting a new king or constitution. Delegates are expected to pass their recommendations on Afghan-US relations and talks with the insurgency on to the parliament.

While several people have criticized the upcoming meeting as unnecessary now that Afghanistan has a parliament system, it remains a major event that a number of Afghans view as a critical part of their political system.

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