Kabul, Fifty people are feared dead after an explosion ripped through an area in Kabul on Saturday where hundreds of minority Shiite Hazaras had gathered to protest over a key power transmission line, reported AFP.
“The dead and wounded were taken to Istiqlal hospital near the blast scene,” AFP quoted health ministry spokesman Mohammad Ismail Kawoosi.
There were no immediate details about any casualties or the nature of the blast, Fraidoon Obaidi, chief of Kabul’s Criminal Investigation Department, said.
Eyewitness Ramin Anwari described seeing up to eight bodies in the Demazang area, where protesters were preparing to set up a camp after a four-hour march. He had no further details.
One of the march organizers Laila Mohammadi said she arrived at the scene soon after the blast and saw “many dead and wounded people.”
Seddiq Sediqqi, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, says police were working to confirm initial reports of the blast.
Main roads across the Afghan capital Kabul were blocked by the authorities as thousands of ethnic Hazaras marched through the city demanding a planned power line be rerouted through their poverty-stricken province.
Police moved trucks and containers into the city overnight yesterday to block roads and prevent marchers
reaching the city center or the presidential palace. Shops and other businesses were forced to close and movement around the city of 4.5 million people was severely restricted.
It was the second march held by members of the Hazara minority against the current route of a multi-million-dollar regional electricity line. The last one in May attracted tens of thousands of people, also shutting down the central business district.
The marchers in vastly lower numbers than in May walked and rode bicycles along their route from the largely Hazara neighbourhoods of the city’s west.
They chanted slogans against President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, shouted “death to discrimination” and “all Afghans are equal.”