A rally in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, has turned deadly after security forces fired into the air to disperse protesters calling for the government’s resignation in the wake of a massive bombing earlier this week.
Hundreds of demonstrators rallied on Friday near the site of Wednesday’s blast, which killed more than 90 people and wounded 460, accusing President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, the chief executive, of failing to protect them.
Police in riot gear fired warning shots and used water cannons and tear gas to block the protesters, many of whom were throwing stones, from gaining access to the road leading to the presidential palace.
Waheed Majrooh, spokesman for the health ministry, told the AFP news agency that four people were killed and eight wounded in the clashes.
A member of parliament put the number of dead at eight.
Mohammad Anwar, a shopkeeper, said four members of his family were killed in the bombing and he wanted a change of leadership.
“We are calling on President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani to resign,” he told AP.
Amir Arya, a protester, said a number of his friends were wounded by police as they tried to block the protesters from advancing.
“Some of them were beaten by police with sticks and some others detained,” he said.
“This act of police and government proves that peaceful demonstration would not be useful any more.”
Others called for reform of the political system, the resignation of security officials and the execution of jailed fighters of armed groups.
Wednesday’s attack in Kabul’s diplomatic quarter was the worst to hit the city in recent years.
Most of the casualties were civilians, including women and children, but the dead also included Afghan security guards.
Kabul’s acting mayor said the explosion damaged property as far as 4km away from the blast site and that scores of people were waiting in hospitals to learn the status of wounded family and friends.
Afghan intelligence officials blamed the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network and Pakistan for Wednesday’s truck bombing in Kabul’s diplomatic quarter.
Ghani is expected to approve the execution of 11 Taliban and Haqqani prisoners, a government source told the AFP news agency, in apparent retaliation for the assault.
Before the attack, at least 715 civilians had been killed in the first three months of the year after nearly 3,500 in 2016, the deadliest year on record for Afghan civilians.