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US Forces Fire at Afghan Protestors
KABUL, May29 , 2006 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) – US forces on Monday, May29 , opened fire randomly at thousands of Afghans protesting a fatal traffic incident involving a US convoy.
The Kabul correspondent of the Doha-based satellite channel said at least 30 Afghans were killed and scores wounded in the deadly incident.
A public health ministry official said on condition of anonymity that at least 40 wounded people had been admitted to hospitals, Reuters said.
Other news reports, however, gave other accounts of casualties.
A spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai said at least seven civilians were killed during the protest.
A Reuters reporter at the scene saw one man shot dead and several wounded people being taken away.
The violence erupted after one civilian were killed and three others wounded when a US military vehicle ploughed into a dozen other vehicles in the capital Kabul.
The incident sent hundreds of men rampaging through the streets of Kabul, hurling stones at the US convoy and smashing vehicle windows.
Afghan police also opened fire when they came to the assistance of the US troops, according to Reuters.
Protesters then marched on parliament and the presidential palace, tearing down a billboard poster of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, smashing windows and looting shops as they went.
"We don't accept Karzai any more as a president. We protest against him: death to Karzai!" shouted Jaweed Agha, one of the protesters.
A Reuters journalist said he saw shops being looted downtown Kabul, and a house belonging to a foreigner and the office of Care International aid group being ransacked.
Several hundred congregated at an intersection leading to the heavily fortified US embassy chanting slogans of "Death to America" and burning American flags.
Several dozen forced their way past a police cordon guarding the road to the US embassy and threw stones at vehicles carrying foreigners, prompting the occupants to fire in the air before turning back.
The US embassy staff were immediately evacuated for fears of being attacked by the protestors.
"Embassy staff have been moved to a secure location. It is a regular procedure during any unrest in the city," US embassy spokesman Chris Harris told Reuters.
Afghanistan's interior ministry has appealed for calm, saying it has set up a team to investigate and find out "what exactly happened".
The US-led coalition also said it was investigating the incident, while Karzai summoned the top commander of the coalition for an explanation.
Monday's violence comes after more than four hundred people were killed in attacks across Afghanistan since Wednesday, May17 .
The US-led forces describe most of the fatalities as Taliban fighters and their supporters, a claim usually challenged by Afghans.
The United States has23 , 000troops in Afghanistan, the highest number since it invaded the country to oust the Taliban regime in late2001 .
NATO is expanding its force from9 , 000to16 ,000, in preparation for taking over security responsibilities in the south from US-led forces.