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Pakistanis stage anti-Afghan protest over killings

Written by: Staff

QUETTA, Pakistan, Mar 25 (Reuters) Up to 200 Pakistanis staged a protest in front of the Afghan consulate in southwestern Pakistan today against the killing of 16 compatriots in Afghanistan.

Chanting slogans against Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the protesters pelted the mission in Quetta, capital of the Baluchistan province, bordering Afghanistan, with stones and demanded action against those involved in the killings.

They tore a picture of Karzai displayed outside the mission.

''The Afghan government should hand over the culprits to Pakistan,'' Khair Mohammad Shaheen, a brother of one of the victims, told a news conference.

Pakistan last week lodged a protest with Kabul over the killing of Pakistanis in southern Afghanistan by forces loyal to an Afghan army officer General Abdul Raziq who said the victims were not civilians and included two Taliban commanders known to have organised suicide attacks and ambushes in Afghanistan.

Pakistan dismissed the claim, saying those killed were civilians and were visiting Afghanistan for a traditional new year holiday.

The killings came amid a sharp deterioration in ties between the two U S allies over Afghan accusations that Taliban fighters were finding sanctuary in Pakistan.

Pakistani authorities say they are doing their best to stem cross-border movement of militants and have urged Afghans to do more on their side of the long, porous border.

Earlier this month, Pakistan beefed up security for its embassy in Kabul amid fears of protests against a suicide attack on former Afghan President Sibghatullah Mojadidi.

After surviving the assassination attempt, Mojadidi blamed the attack on the Pakistan army's intelligence service, a charge Islamabad denied.


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