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PAN, June 15, 2008

Over a dozen wounded as police fire on anti-NATO protestors

NATO officials claimed eliminating five Taliban insurgents and a woman in an operation but locals accused the foreign troops of killing 15 civilians including six children.

Syed Jamal Asifkhel

GARDEZ: More than a dozen protestors suffered injuries as police fired to disrupt a peaceful demonstration against NATO operations in the southeastern province of Paktia, residents and officials said on Saturday.

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Hundreds of residents of the Zurmat district took to the streets Saturday morning to denounce what they called irresponsible NATO sweeps in the restive province. The demo largely remained peaceful in demanding an end to collateral damage in inaccurate military operations.

Lashing out at a NATO bombardment of a civilian house in the Shamalzai area of the district two days back, the demonstrators chanted full-throated slogans denouncing Afghan and foreign forces.

Haji Zahir, one of the demonstrators, told Pajhwok Afghan News police opened fire on the rally, wounding 13 people. As a result of fire from the law-enforcers, he said, the protestors were dispersed.

Dr Haji Muhammad, running a private clinic in the area, corroborated the claim that 13 were wounded. He said the injured were brought to his clinic. Six of them were in a critical condition, the doctor explained.

An official at the provincial police headquarters, Ghulam Dastgir Rustamyar, confirmed police opened fire on protestors. However, he put the number of the wounded at only three.

He insisted police were tipped off that foreign terrorists and Taliban were among the demonstrators and intended to attack the district headquarters. But protestors rejected the assertion as a lame excuse aimed at justifying the untenable police action.

NATO officials claimed eliminating five Taliban insurgents and a woman in an operation but locals accused the foreign troops of killing 15 civilians including six children.

Haji Juma Gul, a local elder among the protestors, said the district market had been closed; people carried black flags and shouted slogans against security officials.

Category: US-NATO, HR Violations, Protest - Views: 13751


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