Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thousands in Kunar protest troop presence

Over 3000 people gathered to protest the presence of foreign and Afghan military personnel at bases in Kunar province. In response to numerous civilian casualties, locals have demanded that military bases be removed from residential areas.

The protestors, number around 3,000, blocked the Asadabad-Jalalabad road in Sawkai district for all kinds of vehicular traffic for two and half hours.

Chanting full-throat slogans against the provincial governor and foreign troops, the demonstrators asked the central government to remove bases of foreign and local troops from civilian areas in the district.

"Twenty-two citizens have been perished in rocket attacks and exchange of fire between Taliban and Coalition troops in Sawkai over the previous two months," said Gul Rahim, 40, dweller of the district and one of the organisers of the protest meeting.

The government troops, he insisted, had failed to maintain security in the province. "They must leave and remove their bases from our areas," he said in a loud voice. ...

Maulvi Naik Muhammad, another protestor and resident of the district, said: "We want withdrawal of foreign forces from the district."(link)
Kunar, it should be noted, is mainly a Pashtun province. The Afghan military, on the other hand, is disproportionately non-Pashtun, particularly in higher ranks.

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