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Maidan Wadak mortar shelling: Tribal elders demand public prosecution of culprits

By Akhtar M.Nikzad-KABUL: Tribal elders, members of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of the parliament) and civil society activists from Maidan Wardak province in a gathering on Monday demanded public prosecution of the culprits of the recent incident of mortar shell attack in the province.

According to reports, a mortar shell fired by Afghan forces hit in a playground in Sayed Abad district of Maidan Wardak province on Friday. The incident led to killing of nine people, including four civilians and wounded two others. Local officials in the province said that they have arrested three army officers in connection with the mortar shelling. A fact finding commission assigned by the provincial governor said that the mortar shell was fired by a checkpoint of Afghan army near the area.

Sherwali Wardak, an MP from the province, told a press conference that several innocent people have been killed in similar attacks of Afghan security forces in Sayed Abad, Chak, Jaghato, Daimirdad, Nerkh and Jalriz districts of the province over the past years; however, the government is yet to bring the culprits to book.

He demanded public trail for those involved in the mortar shelling. He urged the government to replace personnel of the army check post, devise an inclusive plan to ensure better security of the province and put end to insecurity and establish religious seminary in memory of the victims of the incident.

Earlier, the deputy spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, Sayed Zafar Hashemi, said that the Taliban militants in the area were using civilians as human shield.

“President Ghani ordered all security organizations to practice more caution to prevent civilian casualties in fight against militants, but the Taliban use civilians as human shield,” he added.

The chairman of the community council of the province, Ziauddin Kamal, confirmed that militants are using civilians as human shield, but said that mortar shell was not fired in retaliation of any attack.

“Lack of uplift projects, unemployment and lack of security are the main challenges faced by residents of the province,” he said, adding that lack of attention to the province will widen the distance between people and the government.

Obaidullah Kalimzai, another MP from the province, said that some individuals in the ranks of Afghan security forces want to create differences among people.

He warned that if the government failed to meet their demand, residents of Maidan Wardak province will stage massive protests.

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