Kabul: Insurgents opened fire on Afghan police at an anti-NATO rally in southern Afghanistan on Friday, sparking a gunbattle that killed three civilians and a police officer, officials said.
The Taliban fighters infiltrated the protest in the town of Qalat in the southern province of Zabul and shot dead a policeman, said provincial police chief Mohammad Nabi Ilham. The police responded by firing into the crowd of about 100 protesters gathered in the town bazaar, killing three civilians and wounding two others.
"Our police didn't have any option but to fire back in self-defence," Ilham said. "When they fired back, the insurgents and the protesters ran from the area."
No arrests have been made.
The townspeople were protesting an overnight NATO operation that killed three suspected insurgents, including a local Taliban commander, Ilham said. The gunbattle broke out as policemen were taking the insurgents' bodies to the town morgue, he added.
Also, NATO said insurgents killed two alliance service members on Friday in southern Afghanistan.
The alliance provided no further details, or the nationality of those killed, but Britain's Defence Ministry later said that insurgents shot and fatally injured one of its marines in Helmand province.
The deaths bring the number of coalition troops killed in Afghanistan this year to more than 320.
First Published: Saturday, August 06, 2011, 11:22