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The Washington Post, August 1, 2010

Afghans protest civilian deaths, American presence and NATO bombardments

"We don't want America or the Taliban," she said. "We want a government that can protect us."

By Joshua Partlow

KABUL -- Afghans marched through the streets of Kabul on Sunday morning chanting anti-American slogans and denouncing NATO bombardments and the American presence in Afghanistan.


Women protest the killing of civilians in Helmand by US forces
Afghan women chant slogans against NATO and U.S. forces condemning the alleged killing of Afghan civilians by NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, during a demonstration in Kabul, Afghanistan on Sunday, Aug. 1, 2010. More than 400 demonstrators have marched toward the presidential palace in Kabul to protest the alleged killing of 52 civilians by a NATO rocket strike in the south. NATO has disputed the report of civilian deaths. (Photo: AP)


Carrying banners that described America as the "guardian and master of [the] ruling Mafia in Afghanistan," and displaying images of burned and bandaged children, the peaceful demonstration of a couple hundred people wove through the crowded downtown streets led by a police escort.

The protesters, organized by the Solidarity Party of Afghanistan, said they were angry not only about the civilian toll from the ongoing NATO military operations in Helmand province, but about a deadly traffic accident on Friday involving an SUV driven by DynCorp International contractors that killed four Afghans.

"Many times NATO troops and these cars have killed our innocent people. They never care whether we are Afghans or animals," said Samia, a 26-year-old activist from Kabul who took part in the demonstration.

Samia said she did not want the Taliban to return to power in Afghanistan, but that NATO has only aggravated the situation over the past decade and fed a parasitic and dependent Afghan government.

"We want NATO troops and American troops to leave Afghanistan. Even with their huge army, they couldn't do anything in the past 10 years. And in the future, they won't be able to do anything. The result will be just death and casualties and our innocent Afghan women and children will die," she said.

In the immediate aftermath of the Dyncorp car accident on Friday near the American embassy, an angry crowd surrounded the vehicle, and set it on fire. A second Dyncorp team arrived and they were also attacked and their vehicle torched.

"We poor people are not just here to be killed," said an elderly woman named Rabia, who said she witnessed the reaction to the car crash on Friday and was in Sunday's protest. "The people were so emotional. They were throwing stones at the Americans' vehicles. If the police hadn't taken the Americans away, the people would have torn them to pieces. If I had the chance to do that, I would do the same thing."

Rabia, who is from Paktiya province in eastern Afghanistan but has lived most of her life in Kabul, said three nephews have been killed by the Taliban over the years.

"We don't want America or the Taliban," she said. "We want a government that can protect us."

In Kandahar province, Afghan officials said a minibus hit a roadside bomb, killing six Afghans. The blast took place on the western outskirts of the city in the Maiwand district. NATO said insurgents have killed more than 590 Afghan civilians and wounded 1,350 more so far this year.

Special correspondent Javed Hamdard contributed to this report.


The Solidarity Party of Afghanistan organized a protest against the recent killing of 52 civilians in Helmand
The Solidarity Party of Afghanistan organized a protest against the recent killing of 52 civilians in Helmand in Kabul. The protesters shouted anti-US slogans. The text on this photo is read: “Oh! If children of Karzai and other US servants faced such fate…”.
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Category: US-NATO, Protest - Views: 12728