12 Killed in Big Anti-NATO Demonstration in Afghanistan

The LAT reports that a night-time raid by NATO forces that left 4 dead provoked a big demonstration in Taloqan in northern Afghanistan, the repression of which killed 12 and wounded 70.

Taloqan is the capital of Takhar Province, population about 200,000 and people of Uzbek ethnicity are the single largest group. The area was especially resistant to the Taliban, and these northerners who hate the Taliban should have been NATO’s biggest allies if not for the mistaken bombing of civilians. It appears that the local Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) HQ was attacked, though there were no casualties. For the work of the Provincial Reconstruction Team there through 2009, see this pdf file.

The Pashtuns of the south are the ones who typically protest NATO presence in Afghanistan, and among whom pro-Taliban sentiments are common, though still a minority taste. Such anger and a big anti-NATO demonstration are rare in the north (I saw the demonstration on the BBC and it looked bigger to me than only 1500 people).

The USG Open Source Center translates an article from the Afghan Islamic Press with further details

‘ Dozen killed, 70 injured in violent protest rally in Afghan north
Afghan Islamic Press
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 …
Document Type: OSC Translated Excerpt…

Excerpt from report by private Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press news agency

Taloqan, 18 May: In all, 12 people have been killed and 70 others injured in a protest rally in Taloqan (the capital of northern Takhar Province).

This morning, 12 people were killed and 70 others injured in the protest which started against the killing of four civilians by foreign forces in Taloqan.

The head of a hospital in Taloqan, Dr Mohammad Hassan Basij, told Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) on Wednesday afternoon, 18 May, that 12 killed and 70 other injured people, including three children, at the protest rally had been brought to the hospital and the injured people were under treatment at the hospital now.

He said the killed and injured people had bullet shots on their bodies and condition of a number of the injured people was serious.

Basij added that most of the killed and injured people were brought to the hospital from the scene of clashes between the protesters and security forces near the PRT (Provincial Reconstruction Team) office which lasted for several hours.

Meanwhile, an AIP correspondent saw four bodies and a number of injured people in the hospital and said that all these people were young boys and it seems that they were school students.

Takhar Province officials are giving no details about clashes in Taloqan and violence was reported till noon in the city.

The area around the PRT office seemed to be the scene of clashes and the situation was comparatively calm in the afternoon and the protest is ending.

The protesters attacked the PRT office and other government buildings and damaged the buildings. However, no casualties reported inside the PRT office and government buildings.

A source told AIP that PRT and Afghan National Army soldiers have come from neighbouring Konduz Province to help the PRT in Taloqan.

(Passage omitted: protesters broken windowpanes of buildings, known details; two men and two women were killed in foreign forces operation)

(Description of Source: Peshawar Afghan Islamic Press in Pashto — Peshawar-based agency, staffed by Afghans, that describes itself as an independent “news agency” but whose history and reporting pattern reveal a perceptible pro-Taliban bias; the AIP’s founder-director, Mohammad Yaqub Sharafat, has long been associated with a mujahidin faction that merged with the Taliban’s “Islamic Emirate” led by Mullah Omar…) ‘