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Deadly blast kills at least 20 in Kabul protest

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Twin explosions targetting protesters in Kabul have killed at least 20 people and wounded 160 others, said Health Ministry spokesman Ismail Kawusi.

Photographs posted on social media showed bodies, apparently at the site of the explosion, close to where thousands of people had been protesting over the route of a planned multimillion dollar power line.

“It was just at the last minutes of the demonstration when suddenly an explosion happened. Eye witnesses are telling us that tens of people injured have been injured,” Al Jazeera’s Qais Azimy reported from Kabul.

“Ambulances cannot reach the area of the explosion because that part of the road was blocked with containers by the government to prevent the demonstrators from coming to the diplomatic area of the city or get close to the presidential palace. Heavy security measures were taken.

“Yesterday government officials warned they were getting information that an explosion could happen,” he said.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the blast, but it comes in the middle of the Taliban’s annual summer offensive, which the insurgents are ramping up after a brief lull during the recent holy fasting month of Ramadan.

“I was in the crowd of protesters when a loud bang occurred nearby. Many people have been killed or injured – I am in deep shock,” protest organiser Jawad Naji told AFP.

The demonstrators had gathered to demand that a multi-million-dollar power line pass through their electricity-starved province of Bamiyan, one of the most deprived areas of Afghanistan with a large Hazara population.

The 500-kilovolt TUTAP power line, which would connect the Central Asian nations of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan with electricity-hungry Afghanistan and Pakistan, was originally set to pass through the central province.

But the government re-routed it through the mountainous Salang pass north of Kabul, saying the shorter route would speed up the project and save millions of dollars.

[Source: Al Jazeera]
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