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    Kabul-Kandahar road reopens after talks

    KABUL (PAN): Angry residents, who blocked the Kabul-Kandahar highway in central Maidan Wardak province to protest the alleged killing of a university student by foreign troops, lifted the blockade after talks with an official delegation on Saturday.

    The protest in Maidan Shahr, the provincial capital, erupted after the body of the victim named Nasrullah was found dumped on a riverside in the Markhana area of Nirkh district on Thursday night at 11pm.

    The protestors, travelling from the Nirkh to the provincial capital, alleged Nasrullah, a veterinary faculty student at Nangarhar University, had been arrested by foreign troops during a raid on his house in the Ibrahimkhel village on the outskirts of Maidan Shahr.

    Abdullah Khan, the victim’s father, said his son was a student and had no links with any party to the conflict.

    The residents placed Nasrullah's body on the Kabul-Kandahar road in the Tora Tego area and refused to bury the deceased or reopen the highway until the government probed the murderer and pulled out foreign troops from Maidan Wardak.

    "The incident is not the first of its kind. Foreign troops often arrest, torture and even kill innocent people," Ibrahim, who took part in the protest, alleged.  He said people wanted foreign troops should be fast replaced with Afghan forces.

    Governor sent an official delegation to enter talks with the protesting crowd, his spokesman Attaullah Khogyani said. The protestors agreed to open the highway after the delegation promised investigation, he said.

    Toryalai, who took part in the protest, said US Special Forces stationed in the province had arrested the student.

    The gubernatorial spokesman said the highway was reopened around 3pm, but he would not go into details of the talks.

    A protestor Rafiullah said government officials had assured them a thorough going investigation. He warned they would resume their protests if their demands, including complete withdrawal of foreign troops, were not considered.

    The ISAF media office in Kabul said they had launched an investigation into the allegation.

    Nearly two months ago, a number of tribal elders held a meeting with the Governor Abdul Majeed Khugyani and lawmakers representing the province in parliament, and complained against foreign troops.

    President Karzai last month created a delegation to look into the complaints after Senate Chairman Fazl Hadi Muslimyar raised the issue at a National Security Council (NSC) meeting.

    On January 6, Defence Minister Bismillah Mohammadi presented the delegation's findings to  a NSC meeting chaired by Karzai. The report has confirmed Maidan Wardak residents had been killed, detained and harassed by foreign troops over the past many years.

    mm/ma/mud



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