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Afghan Authorities Lock Down Kabul after Deadly Protest

13 Juin 2017

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the act, calling it "an outrageous attack on mourners burying the martyred". It was one of the worst extremist attacks since the drawdown of foreign forces in 2014 and raised fears about the government's ability to protect its citizens almost 16 years into a war with insurgents. "They rammed military vehicles into crowds setting up protest tents", said Gul Haider, a former warlord from the northern part of the country and military commander who joined the protests after he heard news of the clashes.

Wednesday's blast, one of the worst since 2001, killed about 90 people when an explosives-laden human-waste tanker blew up in the Green Zone, where many foreign embassies and government institutions are located.

They were there to pay homage to Salim Ezidyar, the slain son of Mohammad Elim Ezidyar - deputy speaker of the parliament's upper house- who died on Friday when people protesting against Wednesday's truck bombing clashed with police.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. They had been protesting against Wednesday's massive truck bombing which killed over 100 people and injured more than 600.

Police in riot gear used water cannon and tear gas to block the protesters, many throwing stones, from gaining access to the road leading to the presidential palace.

Pakistan's envoy to the U.S. has said the Haqqani network, blamed for Wednesday's massive bombing in Kabul, has moved to Afghanistan and Afghan officials should focus on tackling the militants within their territory instead of blaming Pakistan.

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"I urge everyone not to respond to violence with more violence, said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan, expressing heartfelt condolences to family and friends of the victims, all civilians, "who once again suffered indescribable loss today".

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

Kabul's Italian-run Emergency Hospital said 19 people had been reported killed and 16 wounded had been brought to the hospital. The government has blamed the Taliban-allied Haqqani Network for the attack. A security forces tank fired warning shots into the sky. Police said Friday two protesters were killed and 25 police injured but would not comment on the number of fatalities when asked to clarify the death toll Saturday.

Up to five people were killed during the protests according to Afghanistan's deputy interior minister, as cited by Reuters.

The latest violence comes as US and coalition officials are working on plans expected to see an increase of between 3,000 and 5,000 in the number of foreign troops in Afghanistan.

In the first three months of the year at least 715 civilians were killed across the country, after nearly 3,500 in 2016, the deadliest year on record for Afghan civilians.