Taliban planned Maiwand protest: investigators
KANDAHAR CITY (PAN): An investigation team on Wednesday said a protest demonstration that left 20 people killed and wounded in the Maiwand town of Kandahar province had been planned by the armed opposition.
The team, headed by Mohammad Sadiq Aziz, a presidential advisor, also blamed local police for negligence in keeping the protest from turning violent.
The protest that took place a week ago was said to be against Pakistani assaults on Afghan border police posts in the Goshta district of eastern Nangarhar province.
Police opened fire at demonstrators, claiming that they killed a dozen armed insurgents who had penetrated the rally and opened fire at police.
A suicide bomber and 30 suspected militants were detained by security forces, local officials have said, but residents claimed police opened fire at civilians, inflicting casualties on them.
On Thursday, President Karzai appointed a team to launch investigation into the firing incident.
The team includes advisor to President on tribal affairs Mohammad Sadiq Aziz, Abdul Salam Azmat, a representative of the Attorney General's Office and Syed Rahim Saeed from the Presidential Palace's Administrative Affairs Office.
Other members of the team are Interior Ministry official Col. Hadi Gul, intelligence official Irshad and Local Governance and Community Development (LGCD) official Abdul Matin Qarar.
The firing incident was followed by blowing up of power pylons, power transmission lines and torching a number of shops in the district.
Officials at that time said the protest was not against Pakistan, but Afghan and foreign troops.
Aziz told a press conference at the governor's house in Kandahar City, the provincial capital, that their investigation showed the protest had been carried out against Afghan and foreign troops.
He said local residents joined the protest as they thought it was against the Pakistani attacks on police posts in Goshta.
However, Aziz rejected the claim that foreign or Afghan forces had insulted anyone. He said foreign troops had searched some houses, but there were no complaints if they had insulted women or children.
Aziz also said the protest turned violent due to negligence by local officials. "The rebels have provoked residents to take out the protest against foreign troops, but police have failed to notice it and as a result the situation went out of their control," the investigator said.
He said if the protest had been properly organised, the insurgents would not have been able penetrate it. Aziz said their investigation showed five civilians had been killed and around a dozen others wounded in the violence. Others killed and wounded were either policemen or insurgents.
Local officials said the 30 suspects detained in connection with the violence remained under investigation.
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