Reports indicate that Afghan security forces opened fire on protesters at around 12:30 (local time) on Friday, June 2, wounding at least eight people. The incident occurred near Kabul’s Zanbaq Square in the Wazir Akbar Khan area, where numerous civil society groups were holding a demonstration for the victims of the suicide bombing that occurred on Wednesday, May 31. The protesters were reportedly attempting to reach the Afghan presidential palace.
Tear gas, water cannons, and warning shots were initially used in an attempt to disperse protesters.
According to officials, up to 100 people were killed and over 400 others were injured in the May 31 attack near the German Embassy and the Afghan presidential palace, also located in the Wazir Akbar Khan area at the center of Kabul’s highly secured “Green Zone.” It is still unclear who is responsible for the attack.
This attack takes place during the holy month of Ramadan (May 26-June 25). Typically, there is a heightened terror threat during this period in Afghanistan; Islamic State (IS) has in the past called on members to perpetrate attacks during Ramadan and some regional terrorist groups have followed suit. Furthermore, the Taliban, widely present in the region, announced the official start of their yearly spring offensive in late April, an announcement typically followed by a nationwide surge in attacks.
Individuals in Kabul are advised to avoid the Wazir Akbar Khan area until the situation stabilizes, to avoid all protests more generally, expected increased security measures, and to allow additional time to travel.
As always, due to major security concerns individuals throughout Afghanistan are urged to keep a safe distance from large gatherings, military convoys, government buildings, and crowded urban areas. Many Western governments advise their citizens against travel to Afghanistan due to the high threat of kidnapping and terrorism, including frequent attacks against Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, local civilians and politicians, and individuals working in the humanitarian and reconstruction fields. Travel to the country should only be undertaken with proper security protocols in place.