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At Least 15 Afghans Killed In Stampede Near Pakistan's Jalalabad Consulate

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Afghan men wait to collect tokens needed to apply for Pakistan visas in Jalalabad on October 21.

At least 15 people were killed and 10 injured in a stampede that occurred inside a football stadium in Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar Province, where thousands had gathered on October 20 to secure visas from the Pakistan consulate, officials said on October 21.

Sohrab Qaderi, a council member in the provincial capital of Jalalabad, where the incident occurred, said of the 15 people dead, 11 were women, while several senior citizens were wounded.

To avoid large crowds from gathering at the visa center the applicants had been directed to a nearby football stadium in Jalalabad.

Zahir Adil, the spokesman for the public health directorate in Nangarhar, told RFE/RL that the bodies of 11 women were transported so far to the local hospital.

In ultra-conservative Afghanistan it is customary for women to queue separately from men.

Two other provincial officials said over 3,000 Afghans had gathered to collect tokens needed to apply for a visa to travel to Pakistan.

"Unfortunately, this morning tens of thousands of people had come to the football stadium which led to the tragic incident," provincial governor's spokesman Attaullah Khogyani said.

Pakistan restricted the number of visas for Afghans earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials at the Pakistan embassy were not immediately available for comment.

Most Afghans travel to Pakistan for medical treatment. Those who apply for visas in the capital, Kabul, in Jalalabad, or Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan complain of irregularities and poor management.

Pakistan has promised to ease the processing of visas for Afghans and introduced a new visa regime on October 16.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, dpa, and AFP
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