Afghan police use live ammunition to disperse hundreds of demonstrators at the site of Wednesday's truck bomb attack in which 90 people were killed. The protesters were demanding resignation of President Ashraf Ghani's government.

Protesters carry the wrapped body of a person killed during protests in Kabul on Friday.
Protesters carry the wrapped body of a person killed during protests in Kabul on Friday. (TRT World and Agencies)

Hundreds of chanting protesters demanded the resignation of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's government on Friday, following this week's devastating truck bomb attack in Kabul, squaring off against police who fired live ammunition to keep them back.

By mid-afternoon, an official at the city's Italian-run Emergency Hospital said at least four people had been killed and "several" wounded.

The bodies of some of the dead, wrapped in white shrouds were held in the open by protesters. At least one of those killed was the son of a prominent politician, local media reported.

Other reports say eight protesters were killed in the clashes. However this could not be immediately confirmed.

TRT World's Mikaela Barwick has more details.

More than 1,000 demonstrators, many carrying pictures of bomb victims, rallied near the site of Wednesday's blast, which killed 90 people and wounded over 460, holding Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah responsible.

Police in riot gear used water cannons and tear gas to block the protesters, many throwing stones, from gaining access to the road leading to the presidential palace.

As the standoff continued and new groups of protesters arrived, there were regular bursts of gunfire as police forced the crowd back from the area close to the palace.

Growing pressure

The truck bomb attack, at the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, was one of the worst in Kabul since the US-led campaign to topple the Taliban in 2001, and underlined the growing violence across much of the country.

"The international community has to put pressure on them and force them to resign," said Niloofar Nilgoon, one of a relatively large number of women taking part in the protest. "They're not capable of leading the country."

Others demanded that the government execute prisoners from the Haqqani network, the Taliban-affiliated rebel group that intelligence officials blame for the attack.

"Until we do that, we won't have peace. The only way to get security is to punish criminals," said another protester, Asadullah, who like many Afghans goes by one name.

Yet most of the anger appeared directed against the Western-backed government, underlining growing impatience with its failure to ensure security, almost three years after most foreign troops left Afghanistan.

"Ghani! Abdullah! Resign! Resign!" read one banner, with pictures of bloodstained children, held out of a car window.

Government condemned over fresh killings

Amnesty International denounced the government use of force as an "excessive and deadly response".

The United Nations also urged restraint, warning opposition leaders and strongmen from trying to "opportunistically use these emotional and fragile moments" to foment violence for political gains.

A statement from Ghani's office repeated its condemnation of Wednesday's attack and urged demonstrators not to allow "opportunists to disrupt their civic movement and use this opportunity to sow chaos for their own benefit".

Trump's choice

The pressure on the government complicates the choice facing US President Donald Trump's administration, which is considering plans to increase the number of the US troops in the country by between 3,000 and 5,000 to help break what US commanders say is a "stalemate" in the war.

Taliban insurgents now control or contest about 40 percent of the country. Even before the attack, 715 civilians had been killed in the first three months of the year after nearly 3,500 in 2016, the deadliest year on record for Afghan civilians.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies