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At Least Two Dead After Afghan Police Fire On Protesters

Protesters were angry about the distribution of aid.
Protesters were angry about the distribution of aid.

At least two people were killed and more were injured in western Afghanistan on May 9 when police clashed with hundreds of protesters angry over what they insisted was unfair distribution of food aid during the COVID-19 pandemic, a local lawmaker said.

Protesters in the western Ghor Province were claiming the humanitarian assistance was being given mainly to people with political connections.

Gulzaman Nayeb, a lawmaker from Ghor Province, said seven people had been killed and 14 injured.

Mohammad Arif Aber, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said two people had been killed and five injured after police opened fire in response to some of the 300 or so protesters throwing stones and firing weapons and trying to storm the governor's residence.

Aber denied that aid was being handed out unfairly.

Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) Chairwoman Shaharzad Akbar said that group is probing "worrying reports of police firing on protesters."

Reuters said Akbar told it earlier this week that his commission had received numerous complaints from Afghans about the unfair distribution of supplies and other aid meant to help some of the country's 37 million or so people cope with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We hear repeated complaints from people that the ones who are receiving the limited aid that is there are not the ones that are most deserving, they are the ones who have connections to local authorities or local officials," it quoted her as saying.

Afghanistan has 3,778 confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and 109 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally, although testing is sparse and those figures are thought to be unreliable.

The executive director of the Afghanistan Journalists Center said the dead on May 9 included a local volunteer radio presenter who was sitting in his nearby shop when a stray bullet struck him in the head.

Based on reporting by Reuters