Chaos in Afghanistan Riots hit Kabul after US Traffic Accident
A fatal traffic accident involving US military vehicles in Kabul has sparked some of the worst violence in the Afghan capital since the fall of the Taliban. After civilians attacked the soldiers with stones, shots were fired, reportedly leaving seven dead and dozens injured.
US soldiers were travelling in the northern part of Afghanistan's capital Kabul on Monday when they then became involved in a fatal traffic accident, according to media reports. The details, however, remain unclear.
After the soldiers from the convoy of three Humvee vehicles got out, locals began to pelt them with stones. Shots were fired, killing at least seven people and injuring dozens of others. "There are indications that at least one coalition military vehicle fired warning shots over the crowd," a statement issued by the US military said. A US military spokesman said no US troops had been hurt. According to the Associated Press, Sher Shah Usafi, a police chief in Kabul, said the US vehicles coming into the city from the outskirts rammed into a rush-hour traffic jam, hitting several civilian cars. At least three people were killed and 16 injured in the crash, while US forces killed one person and wounded two when they fired on dozens of stone-throwing rioters. But an AP reporter at the scene of the accident said he saw about 10 Afghan police firing into a crowd of about 50 demonstrators, after US troops had already left the area.
The incident has sparked further unrest in Kabul, as some 2,000 demonstrators headed to the city center shouting "Death to America!" and "Death to Karzai!" in reference to pro-Western Afghan President Hamid Karzai. A Reuters journalist from the news agency said he saw shops being looted in downtown Kabul, and a house belonging to a foreigner and the office of Care International aid group being ransacked.
"Today's demonstration is because Americans killed innocent people. We will not stop until foreigners leave the city. We are looking for foreigners to kill," one protestor, Gulam Ghaus, told AP near where rioters burned a police post.
Anti-foreigner riots have hit Afghanistan in the past after Muslims were insulted by cartoons published in European newspapers of the Prophet Muhammad. Also, last year, a magazine report that US interrogators had sullied Islam's holy book the Koran at the US prison at Guantanamo Bay sparked demonstrations. Both times around a dozen people died in the unrest across the country.
Earlier this month, US-led forces started a new offensive against Taliban fighters in the south of Afghanistan after the Islamists started a wave of violent attacks.