80 killed as blast rips through huge Kabul protest

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KABUL: An explosion ripped through an area of Kabul Saturday where thousands people were protesting over a power line, police said, with eyewitnesses reporting a number of casualties.

Ambulances were struggling to reach the scene as authorities had overnight blocked key intersections with stacked shipping containers to prevent protesters from marching on the presidential palace.

According to eyewitnesses a suicide bomber wearing a burqa detonated explosives while standing among demonstrators in Kabul.

 The death toll has climbed to 80 with hundreds wounded, local media reports. 

 “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, mostly from Hazara tribe who adhere to Shia Islam, 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.

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.

 

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