KABUL (Reuters) - Dozens of angry Afghans pelted police with stones after a convoy of foreign contractors rammed a minivan off a road and one civilian was killed and three more wounded in the Afghan capital on Friday, witnesses said.
Seething resentment against the presence of some 65,000 foreign troops is growing in Afghanistan after scores of Afghan civilians have been killed in a series of mistaken air strikes this year.
Rioting began after a convoy of foreign contractors hit a grey minivan off a main road in eastern Kabul, witnesses said.
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said it was aware of an incident.
“An ISAF patrol was dispatched from Camp Souter having received reports that a civilian contractor had been involved in a traffic accident,” ISAF said in a statement.
“On their arrival, the patrol found a large crowd surrounding the contractors’ vehicles,” it said. Camp Souter is a base for British troops close to the scene of the incident.
The Kabul chief of police had earlier said British soldiers had opened fire on the minivan, but ISAF said none of its troops fired their weapons during the incident.
The chief of police did not return any calls asking for clarification and it was not clear if the civilian died in the traffic accident or was shot afterwards.
But the quickness with which ordinary Afghans turned to violence illustrates the depth of resentment against the presence of foreigners in their country, many of whom drive aggressively at great speed to avoid the threat of suicide bombers.
The killing of an Afghan civilian in a Taliban suicide bomb targeting foreign troops on Thursday, close to the scene of Friday’s incident, provoked no such protest. Afghans often blame the presence of foreign troops for attracting suicide bombs.
Crowds chanted “death to Bush, death to America” as the body of the victim of Friday’s incident was put into the back of a taxi and driven away from the scene.
“They killed my son, my son is dead,” said a weeping old man.
The rioters pelted Afghan police with stones and were chased down side-streets before dispersing.
Dozens of Afghans gathered near the United Nations headquarters in Kabul on Thursday for a peaceful protest against the killing of civilians in foreign air strikes.
At least four Afghan civilians have been killed by foreign soldiers in Kabul this year in what international forces call “escalation of force procedure” after they approached too close to troop convoys.
Large-scale rioting broke out in Kabul in 2006 after a U.S. military vehicle suffered brake failure and plowed into a crowd, killing five people. Seven more people were killed in the rioting.
Reporting by Yousuf Azimy; Writing by Jon Hemming; Editing by Valerie Lee and Sanjeev Miglani