Pajhwok Afghan News, October 6, 2007

Kunar residents want withdrawal of foreign troops

"They must leave and remove their bases from our areas," he said in a loud voice

Khan Wali Salarzai

ASADABAD: Thousands in the eastern Kunar province took to the streets to demand removal of military bases from residential areas in face of mounting civilian casualties in attacks and clashes between militants and Afghan and foreign troops.

Victim of Musa Qala bombing
A small boy injured by US/NATO bombs during the night of August 25/26, 2007 in Musa Qala (by Abdul Khaleq/ AP)

Photo Gallery of US victims in Afghanistan ( )
The Afghan Victim Memorial Project by Prof. Marc ( )

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.

Large number of police contingents were deployed around the scene of the protest meeting to avoid any untoward incident.

Rahim said the residents would continue peaceful demonstrations till the acceptance of their demands by the government and the US-led Coalition troops.

Maulvi Naik Muhammad, another protestor and resident of the district, said: "We want withdrawal of foreign forces from the district."

They had settled their centres amid civilian population, and clashes with militants often resulted in killing of innocent citizens, he argued.

"We've nowhere to go," lamented the grey bearded man, who added that people of the district were being perished in fighting between Taliban and Coalition troops on one hand, while on the other hand, they were not allowed to enter the neighbouring Pakistan to save their lives and those of their families.

Later, the participants peacefully dispersed after negotiations with local administration.

Deputy police chief of the province Brig. Gen. Abdul Saboor Allahyar told Pajhwok grievances of the residents would soon be forwarded to the governor and the Interior Ministry in Kabul.

Abdul Rahim said they wanted redressal of their demands in 30 days. Otherwise, the residents would again resort to protest demonstrations, he warned.

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