Thousands of protesters stormed the Afghan presidential palace on Thursday, calling for President Ashraf Ghani’s resignation.
The demonstration came after the gruesome beheadings of seven Hazaras in Afghanistan’s Zabul province, including a nine-year-old child and a teenage girl, this week. It is suspected that the group was taken hostage by militants about a month ago.
The protesters carried the coffins of all the victims. Female protestors carried the coffin of nine-year-old Shukira, draped in a green flag, through Kabul.
The protestors walked for almost four hours with the coffins before reaching the presidential palace in Pashtunistan Square, where they pleaded for increased security in the country or for the president to step down.
The victims’ coffins were moved inside the grounds of the palace, where they stayed overnight.
The protesters were shot at by guards outside the presidential palace, causing at least seven injuries.
Five protesters suffered gunshot wounds, while two others were injured as police attempted to disperse crowds trying to scale the walls of the palace, Afghan health ministry officials said.
In a televised appeal for calm, President Ghani said, “The nation’s pain is my pain. Like you, I will not calm down until the perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice.
“We shall revenge the blood of our brothers and sisters.”
He said the authorities would show “no mercy” to the killers and that “enemies of Afghanistan” were trying to create disunity and “bring ethnic and sectarian violence” to the country.
No one has claimed responsibility for the killings yet.
However, Afghan officials have blamed militants ranging from the Taliban to Islamic State.
Evidence for this statement comes from the fact that the area where the bodies of the four men, two women, and a nine-year-old were found 5 days ago are areas where Taliban groups had been fighting each other.