Afghans protest against Spanish after deadly shooting

HERAT, Afghanistan — Hundreds of angry Afghans tried to storm a small NATO base in the far northwest Wednesday after a shootout left three Spaniards and an Afghan police trainee dead, officials said.

The Afghan policeman killed two Spanish paramilitary police officers and a Spanish interpreter during a training session at the base in the province of Badghis before he was himself shot dead, Afghan and Spanish authorities said.

Hundreds of Afghan men then tried to over-run the Spanish-administered base in protest at the killing of the local officer, in an incident that left more than two dozen men injured, police and doctors said.

“We have 25 people admitted to our hospitals. Some of them suffer from bullet wounds, others from injuries caused by rocks and sticks,” Abdul Aziz Tareq, the provincial public health chief said.

Television footage showed crowds of angry men in turbans and shalwar kameez throwing rocks at the front gate of the base.

“In a class, one of the students apparently opened fire on the two Civil Guard policemen and the interpreter, who was also Spanish, and killed all three,” Spain’s Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba told local radio.

“The security forces in turn repulsed the attack, fired on the assailant and killed him.”

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), to which the officers were assigned, said two of its service members, along with a civilian and an Afghan police officer were killed in what it called a “shooting incident”.

“The cause of the shooting incident is still unclear,” it said in a statement. Citing “reports” it said an Afghan police officer had fired at his trainers before he was killed in return fire.

Abdul Rauf Ahmadi, a police spokesman for western Afghanistan, told AFP that the shooting erupted after an argument between the Spanish and Afghan police during the training session.

He said hundreds of residents tried to storm the base in the provincial capital Qal-i-Naw in protest at the death of the trainee, before Afghan police, the army and Western troops dispersed the crowd.

“Three youths were injured during the demonstrations,” he said.

ISAF issued a statement saying that “a demonstration occurred near the camp where the shooting happened”.

Afghan police officers and army soldiers have been behind several attacks in recent months in which they have targeted their Western counterparts.

In July an Afghan police officer killed three British Gurkhas in the southern province of Helmand, a hotbed of the Taliban insurgency.

After killing the Gurkhas the officer fled amid reports suggesting he had joined the Taliban, though this could not be confirmed.

Spain currently has 1,555 troops serving in ISAF, part of a 141,000-strong US-led NATO force deployed in Afghanistan to battle a Taliban-led insurgency nearing the end of its ninth year.

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