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12 dead, 90 injured as violent Taloqan protest ends

21 May 2011 - 15:00
21 May 2011 - 15:00

TALOQAN, 19 May, 2011 (PAN): A violent protest demonstration that continued for a second day on Thursday against NATO forces for killing four civilians left a dozen people dead and at least 90 others injured in northern Takhar province, officials said.

Several private shops and cars were damaged as the demonstration turned violent in Taloqan, the provincial capital, forcing police to open fire at demonsttors after they tried to attack the police headquarters.

On Wednesday, the first day of the protest, 12 people were killed 85 others were wounded when police opened fire at protestors. Another five people were injured on Thursday in clashes with security personnel.

Police chief, Shah Jahan Noori, said that the exact amount of losses inflicted on shops, cars and state buildings was yet to be known, but the protest culminated at about 4:00pm after demonstrators held talks with the governor.

He urged people of the province to keep an eye on militants trying to take advantage of the situation.

A delegation from Kabul was in the capital city to talk with representatives of demonstrators about their demands, the police chief said. He said the situation had returned to normalcy with the end of the demonstration.

Some suspects had also been arrested on the charge of causing damages to public and private properties, the governor's spokesman, Faiz Mohammad Tawhidi, said.

Demands presented by protestors were heard and foreign soldiers would launch an inquiry into the airstrike that killed four civilians, including two women, in Gawmali area, three kilometers from Taloqan, on Tuesday night.

NATO said all four were insurgents, but locals insist they were civilians. The alliance said that two women and two men were killed in the night raid on the outskirts of Taloqan. It said that the women were armed, one with an assault rifle, the other with a pistol.

Head of the Taloqan civil hospital, Hafizullah Safi, said five wounded people from Thursday's unrest were brought to the hospital in a critical condition.

He also said two injured people Wednesday’s incident had been taken to Mazar-i-Sharif hospital for being critical.

Governor Abdul Jabar Taqwa said the Wednesday's protest was planned by militants. He said the protest turned violent after insurgents had penetrated protestors.

All shops, excluding the main bazaar, government offices remained closed on Wednesday and Thursday.

The police headquarters building was partially burnt and some police vehicles were damaged during the protest, according to Noori.

"A Wolesi Jirga member from Takhar tried to clam people, but he was beaten by protestors," witness Asadullah said.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the NATO raid, saying the Afghan government had repeatedly warned NATO "about such irresponsible operations".

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