KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Two gunmen firing assault rifles assassinated Afghan Vice President Abdul Qadir as he was being driven from a government ministry Saturday. His driver was also killed but the gunmen escaped.
The attack took place about 12:40 p.m. as Qadir was leaving by car from the Ministry of Public Works, which he also headed, said Interior Minister Taj Mohammed Wardak.
The gunmen, who had been hiding in the bushes, escaped in a car that sped up moments after the shooting, police official Abdul Raouf Dad said.
After the bursts of gunfire, the Qadir's vehicle went out of control and smashed into a brick wall. All 10 uniformed security guards who were on duty at the ministry were arrested because they failed to react properly, said Kabul police chief Din Mohammed Jurat.
Speaking to reporters at the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, where he was celebrating his 56th birthday, President Bush said he had been in touch with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to offer condolences.
"We are just more resolved than ever to bring stability to the country so the Afghan people can have peace and hope," Bush said.
Bush said the Afghan leadership had not asked for special help in investigating the vice president's murder.
"The Afghan government believes they can handle the investigation. There's all kinds of scenarios as to who killed him. It could be drug lords, it could be longtime rivals. All we know is a good man is dead and we mourn his loss," Bush said.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher condemned the assassination of "an Afghan patriot." Boucher's statement said the killing "should not be allowed to divert the government and people of Afghanistan from the path of reconstruction."
Qadir was appointed one of three vice presidents during last month's Afghan grand council, or loya jirga. He also served as governor of eastern Nangarhar province and played a leading role in last year's ouster of the Taliban.
Armed guards wearing bulletproof vests took up positions around government ministries. Some were armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Cars are not allowed to park in front of the ministries, and security guards checked underneath vehicles with mirrors.
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