Sunday, May 11, 2008

VIDEO: Afghan police open fire on anti-US demo (updated)

Below, you can watch a Youtube video of a demonstration on Saturday (May 10) in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province which was called to protest against civilian deaths caused by US-led troops. The Afghan police are seen as they open fire on demonstrators. Police officials have claimed the shooting was in response to violence including rock-throwing by the protesters. Two of the demonstrators were killed by the shots, according to witnesses.

The event that sparked the protest occurred the day before, on Friday May 9, when foreign soldiers raided a home in Nanagarhar's Shinwar district. While NATO claims that several insurgents were killed and captured in the raid (though it is unclear whether this means it was a NATO operation), locals say that three civilians were killed by the foreign troops including one elderly man holed up in a mosque.

It appears that the protest centered around a funeral for one of the men allegedly slain by the foreign troops (see photos).

Reuters has the latest:

Protesters clash with police in Afghan east, two dead
By Mohammad Rafiq

NANGARHAR, Afghanistan, May 10 (Reuters) - At least two people were killed and seven wounded in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday in clashes between police and demonstra- tors protes- ting against civilian deaths at the hands of foreign troops, witnesses said.

Several thousand protesters had blocked a highway through Nangarhar province linking the capital Kabul with Pakistan. They said they were demonstrating against the killing of three civilians in the area by foreign forces in an overnight raid...

The protesters said five civilians had also been detained in the raid, in the Shinwar district of Nangarhar. Both NATO-led and troops under U.S. command are stationed in the province.

An official for NATO in Kabul said he was not aware of the raid. The U.S. military said all those killed were militants and the target of its raid was "a foreign fighter network"...

Protestors hurled stones at police, who responded by firing in the air and into the ground, a Reuters reporter at the scene said.

"We will start jihad if they (foreign troops) continue to carry on like this," Khairullah, a 35 year-old protestor chanted as others shouted "Allahu akbar", or God is greatest... (link)
Agence France-Presse has more details:
One dead at Afghan demo against US-led soldiers: witnesses
Samoon Miakhial

NANGARHAR, Afghanistan, May 10 (AFP) - At least one person was killed and several wounded in Afghanistan Saturday when police opened fire to disperse a protest...

Provincial police chief Sayed Abdul Ghafar denied his men had caused any casualties, saying they had only fired into the air after being shot at from the crowd. Two policemen were wounded, he said.

Ghafar however said that -- contrary to US-led coalition claims -- the men killed in an operation overnight in the Shinwar district were not militants or from the extremist Taliban movement.

"The coalition conducted independent operations in Shinwar and martyred three people. They were civilians," he told AFP.

Before the demonstration was dispersed, protestors chanted slogans against foreign troops, US President George W. Bush and Afghan leader Hamid Karzai.

"The Americans killed three civilians," said demonstrator Pizwan Khan. "They were my neighbours and I knew they were not Taliban," he told AFP above shouts of "Death to America, death to Bush, death to Karzai."

Others said the dead were an elderly man shot in a mosque and two other men, employed as drivers, shot in their homes... (link)
The video:

It seems that US troops have been busy in Nangarhar this past week. On Monday (May 5), US troops killed several militants and captured several more in a raid in another district.

Pajhwok Afghan News cites a local tribal elder of the Shinwari tribe as stating that three protesters were killed by the security forces.

On May 12, US-led coalition forces released all nine suspects detained in the May 9 raid which sparked the protests, says Pajhwok. The report also puts the number of people wounded in the raid at six.