Afghan police fire shots in air as landslide aid truck attacked

AAB BAREEK, Afghanistan Tue May 6, 2014 7:10am EDT

Displaced Afghans carry their aid on a donkey near the site of a landslide at the Argo district in Badakhshan province May 5, 2014. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

Displaced Afghans carry their aid on a donkey near the site of a landslide at the Argo district in Badakhshan province May 5, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Mohammad Ismail

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AAB BAREEK, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Afghan police fired gunshots into the air on Tuesday to disperse villagers who fought police and aid workers distributing emergency supplies near the remote site of a deadly landslide, witnesses said.

Aid agencies have rushed tons of supplies to more than 4,000 displaced by the landslide in Aab Bareek, a village in the Argo district of Badakhshan in the northeast of the country, that was partially destroyed when the side of mountain collapsed on Friday.

Tensions have been running high in the area, as victims say emergency supplies are not arriving fast enough. Compounding the situation, residents of neighboring poor villages have walked to the refugee center in a bid to get food and other rations.

Dozens of people tried to board an aid truck on Tuesday, and then attacked two police officers who attempted to restore calm, a Reuters witness said.

A further eight police joined their colleagues, beating them the villagers back with the butts of their rifles.

"Up to 80 people on a nearby hill pelted the police with stones and the police fired into the air for about a minute," the witness said.

In a tense standoff, a man armed with a pistol approached the aid truck. "Four police were pointing their AK47s at him, and one rushed at him and twisted his arm and grabbed his gun," the witness said.

After decades of conflict, guns are commonplace in Afghanistan.

Hundreds of villagers were buried in up to 50 meters of mud and debris on Friday in the worst natural disaster to hit the country in a decade.

(Reporting by Mirwais Harooni; Writing by Hamid Shalizi; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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