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Protest over NATO raid turns violent; 6 killed

Protest over NATO raid turns violent; 6 killed

More than 1,000 protesters poured into a northern Afghan city Wednesday, shouting "Death to America!" and calling for justice as they clashed with security forces following an overnight NATO raid they claim killed four civilians.
At least six people were killed as the protesters fought with police and tried to assault a NATO outpost. The protest took place in the city of Taloqan, the capital of Takhar province.
The NATO raid they were protesting took place hours before in the outskirts of the city.
The coalition said four insurgents died in the operation and that two others were detained.
Provincial Gov. Abdul Jabar Taqwa said the four casualties from the raid were two women and two men who were killed when troops burst into a home in an area known as Gawmal late Tuesday night. He said that no one in his government was informed about the raid and that NATO acted unilaterally.
NATO confirmed it killed four people, two of them women, but said all were armed and tried to fire on its troops. NATO said the raid was conducted by a "combined Afghan and coalition security force," according to coalition policy. NATO has agreed to always conduct night raids _ controversial because they regularly result in claims of civilian deaths or mistreatment _ with Afghan forces.
A spokesman for NATO forces said that the governor was contacted ahead of the raid.
"It is standard practice in Takhar province to contact the Afghan provincial leadership prior to an operation. In this case, calls were placed to the provincial governor six times prior to the operation," Maj. Michael Johnson said. He also reiterated that Afghan forces took part in the operation.
It is rare for women to be part of an insurgent fighting force in Afghanistan, but not unheard of. There have previously been cases of women fighting with the insurgency, including as suicide bombers.
NATO said in its statement that one of the women was armed with an assault rifle and tried to fire on the force. The other woman was armed with a pistol and pointed her gun at the security force as she was trying to escape the compound.
Hundreds of people gathered on the road from Gawmal to Taloqan early Wednesday and carried the four bodies on platforms as they marched into the city, according to an Associated Press Television News cameraman at the scene. They shouted insults at Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the United States.
"Death to Karzai! Death to America!" they yelled.
The governor, Taqwa, estimated that there were about 1,500 demonstrators.
The protest turned violent as some in the crowd started looting shops and throwing stones at a small NATO base in the city. Police were out throughout the city trying to calm the crowd, Taqwa said. Gunfire could be heard in a number of neighborhoods and troops at the NATO outpost shot off rounds in an attempt to disperse the crowd outside their walls.
Six men died in the city's hospital _ most from bullet wounds, said Dr. Abdul Khaliq Nesary, a physician at the hospital. He said there were more than 30 more people who were wounded.
At least eight Afghan police officers were wounded, Interior Ministry spokesman Zemerai Bashary said.
NATO said that the raid targeted a man working with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan _ an insurgent group that is powerful in the north. The man was involved in arms trafficking and building explosives, NATO said. The alliance did not say if he was killed or captured.
"Throughout the entire operation the security force was careful to ensure the safety of all civilians," the NATO statement said.
"We are aware of the claims of civilian casualties, and are looking into them," Johnson added.


Updated : 2021-04-14 01:39 GMT+08:00