The Ministry of Interior Affairs (MoI) says that at least nine people were killed after their protest turned violent and ended up in a clash between security forces and armed men loyal to Alipoor, a local commander, in the Behsud district of Maidan Wardak province on Friday.
The ministry said a team has been assigned to investigate the incident.
According to the ministry, the clashes erupted after a group of people, among them “irresponsible armed men” loyal to commander Alipoor, resisted the appointment of new police commanders in the district by holding a protest outside the police headquarters.
The ministry said that seven members of Alippoor’s men and some civilians and security force members were wounded in the clashes that started on Thursday.
Abdul Ghani known as commander Alipoor is a local commander in Behsud district in Maidan Wardak. He has many times supported public uprising forces' campaign against the Taliban in Daikundi, Ghor, Ghazni and Maidan Wardak province.
In 2018, he was in security forces custody and when he was released, he signed a commitment letter with the government in November 2018 and committed to being ready to respond to allegations against him and added that he “will register all weapons” with the government or hand them in.
Meanwhile, Mahdi Rashikh, an MP from Maidan Wardak who introduces himself as deputy of commander Alipoor, at a press conference in Kabul on Saturday said that the clashes between special forces and the armed men are underway in Behsud.
Rasikh claimed that Alipoor’s men are not involved in the clashes but said that they will also engage in fighting if the government continues its operation.
“The government by such attempts proved that it does not have any difference with the Taliban. We will review our support to the government,” Rasikh said.
Two lawmakers from Maidan Wardak province said that 11 residents of the area were killed and 20 more were wounded. The lawmakers said that 150 residents of the area were arrested by security forces.
Some residents of the Maidan Wardak at a ceremony in Kabul on Saturday blamed security forces for opening fire on the protest held in Behsud district.
“It is a cruel act… This is an unforgivable sin,” said Murad Ali Murad, former deputy minister of defense.
The interior ministry’s spokesman, Tariq Arian, said the clashes happened when illegal armed men loyal to commander Alipoor prevented the establishment of checkpoints in parts of the district.
But Madi Rashikh, an MP from Maidan Wardak, said that public uprising forces, including those loyal to Alipoor, have not entered fighting against security forces.
The protestors said they contacted the interior affairs minister Massoud Andarabi, but he told them that the security forces were sent by the national security adviser to Maidan Wardak. The national security adviser Hamdullah Mohib’s office did comment on this matter.
“The interior minister does not have authority. The defense minister does not have authority. Vice presidents do not have authority,” said Ali Akbar Qasimi, an MP.
Meanwhile, Second Vice President Sarwar Danesh, former president Hamid Karzai and presidential adviser Mohammad Mohaqiq condemned civilian casualties in the clashes and stressed the need for addressing the problem.
Former president Hamid Karzai in a statement said he is concerned about the incident in Behsud district and that he calls for calm.
Karzai called on the government to address the issue through settlement and in coordination with locals.
Maidan Wardak lawmakers called Alipoor’s armed men as pro-government forces, but the Ministry of Interior Affairs said that no armed forces are legitimate when they operate outside the structure of the security agencies.