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Four Killed Amid Violence At Antigovernment Protest In Kabul

RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan June 02, 2017

Authorities in Afghanistan say four people have been killed amid confrontations between police and protesters demanding the resignation of President Ashraf Ghani's government two days after a deadly truck-bomb blast in Kabul.

Police in riot gear fired into the air and used tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters and prevent them from marching toward the presidential palace. Some reports said police also opened fire at protesters who tried to advance toward the building.

Health Ministry spokesman Waheed Majrooh told RFE/RL that four people were killed and eight injured at the protest.

Mohammad Alam Izadyar, the first deputy chairman of the Afghan Senate, told RFE/RL that his son, Salem Izadyar, was injured in the protest and taken to a hospital, where he died. It was not immediately clear how he was injured.

Amnesty International criticized the use of "excessive and fatal force on protesters," saying it "illustrates the authorities' contempt for the lives of ordinary people."

"While there are reports that a minority of protesters used violence including throwing stones at the police, this does not justify such an excessive and deadly response," the London-based group's South Asia Director Biraj Patnaik said in a statement.

Patnaik added that authorities should ensure that those responsible for deaths are brought to justice.

The chaotic scenes unfolded after more than 1,000 protesters gathered near the site of the May 31 morning-rush-hour attack that killed at least 90 people and wounded more than 460, most of them civilians.

The deadliest bombing in the capital since a U.S.-led invasion drove the Taliban from power in 2001, it compounded questions about the Western-backed government's ability to protect citizens from militant groups including the Taliban and Islamic State (IS).

Some protesters carried pictures of victims of the attack, many of whom were women and children.

Others carried antigovernment signs and banners, including one that said, "As long as Ghani is in the [presidential palace], there is death."

"Ghani! Abdullah! Resign! Resign!" read one poster -- a reference to Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, who have led the beleaguered country under a power-sharing deal hammered out after a bitter and disputed election in 2014.

Protester Ahmad Saeedi told Radio Free Afghanistan that the demonstrators want "justice."

"The authorities are incompetent," he said, adding that they should resign.

"People don't trust these leaders anymore. They have to give up power," Saeedi said.

Ghani's office called for calm in a statement issued several hours after the violence erupted.

"Peaceful protest is the civic right of the people and the government supports that," the statement said.

It added that the Afghan government is committed to listening to people's demands and that it will consider "logical demands" after receiving them.

The statement also said that the government "regrets" the deaths and injuries of a number of citizens at the protest.

Reuters reported that security forces fired into the air as some protesters attempted to cross a police cordon.

Afghan media outlet Tolonews cited protesters as saying that six of them were detained by police.

The deputy interior minister for security, General Murad Ali Murad, told reporters that a number of individuals who carried weapons and "aimed to disrupt peace" at the protest were arrested.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, and the Taliban has denied involvement.

Reuters has reported that Afghanistan's main intelligence agency, the National Directorate for Security, believes it was carried out by the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network with assistance from Pakistan -- a charge also leveled by some former Afghan officials.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, tolonews, the Washington Post, and AFP

Source: protest-after-bombing/28524288.html

Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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