Four injured in fresh Afghan anti-NATO protest

KABUL — Four people were injured in fresh protests in Afghanistan on Thursday as the UN urged “restraint” a day after 14 people died in demonstrations against a NATO-led military operation.

Around 200 people gathered in the streets of Taloqan in the northeastern province of Takhar for a second day with some attacking the town’s police compound and setting fire to police motorcycles, officials said.

Police used water cannon to disperse the crowd.

On Wednesday, 2,000 people joined violent protests against a raid by NATO-led forces which left four people dead who demonstrators and President Hamid Karzai said were civilians but foreign forces insisted were insurgents.

Local officials initially put Wednesday’s death toll at 12, but the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said it was 14 Thursday.

“There are about 200 people demonstrating,” Fayez Mohammad Tawhidi, a spokesman for the provincial administration, told AFP. “Police are using water cannon to disperse them.”

He added that some of the crowd had attacked the police compound and torched motorcycles before police fired in the air to disperse them.

“Three of the demonstrators were injured and taken to the hospital and the fire was put out,” he said.

Local officials in the area later said four protesters were wounded.

Tawhidi said elders had been planning a bigger protest but were persuaded to abandon it after local officials said they would investigate the foreign troop raid in three days.

UNAMA issued a statement saying it was “deeply concerned” about what had happened and called for restraint.

“Tensions in Taloqan remain high,” the statement said. “UNAMA urges all parties to remain calm and to exercise restraint.”

It also called on “all parties to the conflict to take all necessary measures to protect civilians” and said it would launch its own investigation.

The NATO-led raid that led to the demonstrations in usually peaceful Takhar has been angrily condemned by Karzai, who is demanding an explanation of what happened from the US commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said the operation killed four people, including two armed women, and targeted the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a militant group operating from bases including in Afghanistan.

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