Demonstration against civilian deaths turns violent

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, April 25, 2010 16:27 EDT
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KABUL (AFP) – A demonstration by Afghan tribesmen turned violent Sunday as they set fire to fuel tankers during a protest over the alleged killing of civilians in a military raid, officials said.

Colonel Ghulam Mustafa, provincial police chief for Logar, a troubled province to the south of Kabul, said US and Afghan troops had raided a compound overnight.

He said during the raid three men believed to be insurgents were killed.

The troops captured several armed men and seized ammunition, Mustafa told AFP, leading them to believe the people in the compound were insurgents.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said a combined patrol had entered a compound in Nagar village in Logar early Sunday and “captured a Taliban sub-commander and killed several insurgents”.

“As the assault force conducted a call out they were confronted by armed individuals,” ISAF said in a statement.

“When the individuals displayed hostile intent they were shot and killed. The force also captured two militants. One of the militants captured is a Taliban sub-commander involved in planning suicide attacks,” it said.

On Sunday, hundreds of tribesmen poured onto the streets of Puli Alam, capital of Logar, shouting anti-US slogans and insisting the dead and those who were detained in the raid were all ordinary villagers.

The angry mob torched 15 giant fuel tankers which were passing by at the time, Mustafa said, adding that rockets had been fired at the vehicles from amongst the crowd.

“The enemy was among the crowd,” he said, referring to insurgents.

“A rocket fired from the crowd caused the fire in the fuel tanker convoy. They were heading up east, supplying foreign forces,” he said.

He said three people among the crowd had been injured, but had no further details.

The Tolo television station quoted witnesses saying the injured were students.

The interior ministry earlier confirmed the demonstration had turned violent.

Civilian deaths in Afghanistan’s ongoing conflict are an incendiary issue, and though most are caused by Taliban-linked insurgents, they are generally blamed on the presence of foreign troops.

The United Nations said in a report earlier this year that most civilian fatalities — 2,412 in 2009 and 2,118 in 2008 — were caused by Taliban attacks.

Civilian deaths caused by Western troops fell 28 percent last year compared with the year before, thanks to measures taken to protect civilians, it added.

The deaths of four civilians earlier this month when US soldiers fired on a bus sparked furious protests in Kandahar and expressions of regret from NATO and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
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