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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 July, 2003, 21:57 GMT 22:57 UK
Karzai apologises for embassy attack
Damage to the passport section of the Pakistan embassy
The embassy is closed while repairs are carried out

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has apologised to Islamabad after protesters attacked Pakistan's embassy in Kabul.

He told Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf that those responsible were enemies of peace and stability in the country and promised to compensate them for the damage.

The ransackers broke away from a 1,000-strong rally in protest against alleged Pakistani incursions into Afghanistan.

The BBC's Paul Anderson in Islamabad says the incident highlights the pent-up hostility of several ethnic groups in Afghanistan towards Pakistan.

After Tuesday's attack, Pakistan lodged a formal protest with the Afghan Government and accused its security forces of failing to prevent the 'mob' from entering the building.

We want good relations with Pakistan but we will not tolerate anybody's interference
Afghan central bank governor

Our correspondent said it was unclear when the embassy might reopen, although Pakistan's foreign minister has reportedly said it will be back in business after the broken equipment and furniture has been repaired.

At a news conference President Karzai said: "I strongly, strongly, strongly condemn this action.

"Those who committed this act are not the enemies of Pakistan. They are the enemies of Afghanistan, peace in Afghanistan. They are the enemies of friendship between Afghanistan and Pakistan".

The Afghan Foreign Ministry said it would pay compensation for the damage and guarantee the mission's security.

Equipment smashed

Afghan hostility towards Pakistan mounted at the weekend after it criticised President Musharraf for allegedly speaking of a power vacuum in Afghanistan and apparently claiming the government did not represent all ethnic groups.

Officials also accused Pakistan of sending troops into Afghan territory during operations on the border - a charge rejected by Pakistan.

Government officials were among those who took to the streets of Kabul for a second day of protests.

"We want good relations with Pakistan but we will not tolerate anybody's interference," said the governor of the central bank, Anwar Ul-haq Ahady.

Similar attacks

It is not the first time angry Afghans have attacked the Pakistani embassy.

In the mid-90s, one person was killed when diplomats and staff were beaten with crow-bars and sticks after anti-Taleban forces captured Kabul.

Hamid Karzai
President Karzai said the attackers were enemies of peace

The BBC's Paul Adams said memories are long Afghanistan and people remember Pakistan's support of the Taleban - despite its crackdown on extremists after the 11 September attacks.

He said Pakistan is still seen by some as willing to round up al-Qaeda and Taleban suspects with one hand while supporting their remnants with the other.

And Pakistan's position is not helped by the fact that those most hostile hold positions of power in President Karzai's administration, says our correspondent.

Over the weekend, Mr Karzai sent a team of high-ranking government officials to the border after tribal elders told him they were concerned that Pakistani forces were carrying out military operations inside Afghan territory.

Pakistan denies that its troops had entered Afghan territory. Last month, its army deployed troops in a border area which traditionally has not been administered by the central government.

The operation was part of attempts to try to stop suspected Taleban and al-Qaeda fugitives from carrying out cross-border attacks on Afghanistan.

The BBC's Jannat Jalil
"[Afghanistan's] President Karzai has strongly condemned the attack on the Pakistan embassy"

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