Nawroz revellers targeted in Mazar
MAZAR-I-SHARIF (PAN): People celebrating Nawroz in Mazar-i-Sharif, capital of northern Balkh province, say they are being targeted by pickpockets on motorbikes.
The thieves are stealing mobile phones and shopping bags straight out of people’s hands.
Thousands of revellers from across Afghanistan descend on Mazar each year for the Afghan New Year, which is marked on March 21 and then celebrated for another 40 days, often picnics, feasting and shopping.
“I was standing on the roadside, talking to my friend on my phone, when two individuals on a motorbike drove close to me, snatched the phone out of my hand and sped away,” said Samiullah, 29, a resident of northern Baghlan province.
“There were two guys on the motorbike. One would drive and the other scouted for people holding valuables. Both wore masks,” he said.
“I bought this mobile for $60 just three months back,” he said.
Other people say that it is difficult to keep an eye out for the thieves as they do not look any different to anyone else.
Mubarak Shah, a journalist for the Khidmatgar newspaper, also said his mobile phone was stolen by thieves on a motorcycle.
“I had my phone in my hand when two guys on a bike drove close to me and suddenly grabbed my mobile phone and escaped. I watched them go and saw that one was just a boy with his face covered by a mask. I stood there for a long time unable to believe what had just happened. “
And it is not just mobile phones that thieves are stealing
Abdullah, a resident of Karti Bukhdi in central Mazar-i-Sharif, said he was targeted because of his shopping bags.
“I came to city with my children to go shopping. I had a bag of shopping in my hand, when men on a motorcycle grabbed the bags and sped off.
“The purchases in the bag were not so expensive, but the bag looked good, that’s why they took them,” he said.
Abdullah said people did not want to bother police with the robberies, as they seemed trivial and a waste of police time.
But police said they wanted people to alert them to the situation and asked for their cooperation.
Shir Jan Durani, the provincial police spokesman, confirmed there had been a rash of robberies and thefts during the first week of Nawroz.
“Some people were riding on motorbikes and stealing mobiles and other valuables. We arrested some of them and imposed a ban on two people riding on one motorbike in the city.”
If there are other cases which happened during Nawroz, then people should notify the police, eh said.
“We will try to prevent such thefts.”
Last year during Nawroz, taxi drivers taking people to Balkh would steal money from them, but this has not happened this year, he said.
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