Frustrated residents of Ghor province gathered in the streets on Saturday to protest what they called the government's "inattention to helping the poor" during the COVID-19 crisis.
The Interior Ministry’s spokesman Tariq Arian said that two policemen were killed and 10 others were wounded after a number of “irresponsible armed men” who were among the protestors opened fire on security forces and on public property.
Arian said that four protestors, including a journalist, were killed and nine others were wounded.
The protest started in front of the Ghor governor’s compound on Saturday morning and shortly turned violent.
“The (assistance) is not provided to those in need. It is treason,” said Niaz Mohammad, a protestor.
“The coronavirus has put everyone in quarantine. There is no work. Our children are about to die of hunger. What is going on here?” asked Abdul Rahim, a protestor.
“There were people among the protestors who were given the plan to turn the protest violent,” Ghor Police Chief Mohammad Amin Ahmadzai said.
The First Vice President Amrullah Saleh in a social media post said four people lost their lives in the protest during the food distribution, calling it "shocking."
"I want to assure our countrymen that no one will remain out of the list and we will reach in support every single inhabitant of this country who has been affected economically by the coronavirus," said Saleh.
Ghor governor Ghulam Nasir Khaze said that, so far, 10,000 application letters have been received from vulnerable people for assistance, especially for food.
“People are hungry, they have problems. It is their right to be helped...We promised to provide them with assistance from India’s aid package,” he said.