Afghanistan celebrates independence day | india | Hindustan Times
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Afghanistan celebrates independence day

india Updated: Aug 21, 2006 12:13 IST

Afghanistan celebrated its independence from British rule with a fireworks display that pleased the old but scared some children in the war-battered country.

Planned festivities on Saturday included sports, entertainment and a parade by US and NATO-trained Afghan forces amid the worst surge in violence since a US-led invasion ousted the hardline Taliban regime in late 2001 for hosting Osama bin Laden.

The bloodshed has hit especially hard in the country's south, where an insurgency claims daily casualties and threatens efforts to normalize the war-shattered country.

Celebrations began with fireworks that lit up the sky Friday night. President Hamid Karzai was to lead festivities on Saturday. The holiday marks Afghanistan's liberation from Britain in 1919, following the third Anglo-Afghan war.

Repeated wars and conflicts have devastated the nation of 25 million people in the last three decades, with scars still visible on buildings, and large swaths of minefields in the country.

About 20,000 NATO-led troops, some of them British, are in the country, along with 22,000 US forces.