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Kabul-Kandahar highway still blocked as protests drag

AT-KABUL: Hundreds of enraged people blocked the Kabul-Kandahar highway for a third day on Monday to protest civilian deaths blamed on gunmen in uniform in southern Ghazni province.

The protest was started after two people including a child were killed by a number of armed men, who attacked a house in the Shirabad area of Qarabagh district on Friday night.

Angered by the incident, hundreds of residents of Qarabagh have kept blocked the Kabul-Kandahar highway in their area and Ghazni City since Saturday.

Aminullah Abdur Rahimzai, one of the protestors, told Pajhwok Afghan News they had talked to the police chief on the issue but no progress had been achieved yet.

He said: “The victims; bodies are still lying in hospital and we would not transfer them as long as our demand is not met. We would not reopen the road.”

Another protestor said a dispute on irrigation water between the people of Shirabad and Nekhti area had been dragging on for a year and a half.

“The governor is incompetent. If he had resolved this problem during this tenure, no one would have been killed. Similarly, the highway would have never been blocked,” he commented.

On the other hand, many vehicles and passengers have been stranded on both sides of the road. They are facing various problems as the protest continues.

Habibullah, a driver, told Pajhwok he reached Ghazni City on Saturday noon but the road was closed until Monday.

“The protestors should reopen the road because they have created problems for people; instead they should hold the government accountable,” he commented.

A passenger, Ahmadullah, who is also stranded on the highway, said: “I am traveling from Kandahar to Kabul along with a patient. The road is blocked and we are in trouble.”

Provincial police chief, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Zaman Mamozai, has reached Qarabagh district along with a delegation to resolve the issue peacefully.

He asked the protestors to reopen the road for traffic. However, the demonstrators have erected tents on the road that remains blocked.

The incident comes months after a clash over the water dispute between residents of the two localities left one person dead.

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