Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 31 May 2020

Kabul residents protest against foreign compound after Taliban attack

Residents took to the streets on Tuesday to demand justice for those killed and injured in Monday's attack

Angry Afghan protesters burn tyres and shout slogans at the site of a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan. Reuters
Angry Afghan protesters burn tyres and shout slogans at the site of a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan. Reuters

Hundreds of residents from near Kabul’s Green Village took to the streets on Tuesday to demand justice for those killed and injured in Monday’s Taliban attack.

Green Village is a heavily fortified compound that includes international organisations and aid agencies, and residential apartments for foreign employees.

Those living near by said they had earlier aired their displeasure to the police about living near a target for militant groups.

One resident told The National that they were not as angry at the Taliban as they were with the government for not moving the compound away from their homes, despite promises.

The compound had already been attacked once this year, with a lorry explosion killing dozens, including two foreign nationals, in January.

Monday’s huge lorry bomb killed at least 16 and wounded almost 119.

Angry residents burned tyres during Tuesday’s protest, blocking the main road that connects the capital city to the country’s eastern provinces.

Afshin Azimi, 23, who saw the protest on his way to work, said the demonstrators were “demanding justice for family members who were killed or injured”.

Mr Azimi said they were throwing stones and anything they could get their hands on at the walls of the guarded compound and the armoured vehicles parked outside.

As tension increased, the police fired at the protesters, injuring some and intensifying the situation.

“We have asked the government and police so many times to remove or move this compound from our neighbourhood to somewhere else,” said Ali Shah Khan, 50, who lives close to the village and was waiting outside the Emergency War Hospital.

"But the government hasn't done anything. We came out to ask for justice."

Mr Khan’s cousin, a village elder who was also at the protest, was injured during the demonstration and was being treated at the hospital.

Mr Khan’s daughter, 17, was injured during the attack.

“There are a lot of injuries and a lot of our houses are completely damaged," he said. "You can’t even imagine the damage that has caused us."

“We have been promised that the compound would be moved, but I am sure they took money behind our back and that’s why they haven’t done anything.

"And now, once again, we, the poor and innocent, die.”

Mr Azimi said there were at least 300 at the protest and many tried to climb the walls of the fortified compound to try to take over the complex.

“They brought a ladder and climbed Green Village walls," he said. "The fire from the attack was still burning inside and every time a vehicle inside the complex would blow up they would cheer."

Basir Mujahid, a spokesman for Kabul police, said five terrorists were killed by special forces after Monday’s attack and large amounts of weapons were confiscated.

The impact of the lorry explosion that was detonated just outside the walls of the village was felt across the city.

The Taliban claimed the vehicle bomb was followed by an attack on the complex, carried out by four of their fighters who were specifically aiming for foreigners.

“We evacuated nearly 400 foreign nationals who had been trapped inside and transported them to secure locations last night,” Mr Mujahid said.

No information on the number of foreign casualties was available.

The attack comes as the Taliban are finalising a peace deal with the US, a copy of which was shown to the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Monday morning.

Despite the negotiations, there has been little or no respite for local Afghans, who continue to suffer increased Taliban attacks.

In the past week there have also been attacks on Kunduz and Pul-e Khumri.

“We want an answer from the government," Mr Khan said. "Our kids can’t go to school and the ones that do are scared all the time.

"They will attend for a day and then they can’t go for two days because of the fear of an attack."

Updated: September 5, 2019 06:56 AM



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