Afghans jostling for visas spark stampede, killing at least 15

Afghans jostling for visas spark stampede, killing at least 15

Afghan men wait to collect tokens needed to apply for the Pakistan visa, in Jalalabad, Afghanistan
Afghan men wait to collect tokens needed to apply for the Pakistan visa, in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, Oct 21, 2020. (REUTERS/Parwiz)

JALALABAD: At least 15 people were killed in a stampede among thousands of Afghans gathered outside Pakistan's consulate on Wednesday (Oct 21)  as jostling broke out between people applying for visas, officials in the eastern city of Jalalabad said.

An estimated 3,000 Afghans had congregated on the open ground outside the consulate, waiting to collect tokens needed to apply for a visa, two provincial officials told Reuters a day after the tragedy.

An Afghan man who got injured while collecting tokens needed to apply for the Pakistan visa, arrive
An Afghan man who got injured while collecting tokens needed to apply for the Pakistan visa, arrives for treatment at a hospital in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, Oct 21, 2020. (REUTERS/Parwiz)

Eleven of the 15 victims were women, and several senior citizens were among more than a dozen injured, Sohrab Qaderi, a provincial council member, said.

"The visa applicants jostled to secure their token from the consulate officials...the crowd got out of control, leading to a stampede," said an official in Jalalabad said.

Tens of thousands of Afghans every year travel to neighbouring Pakistan to secure medical treatment, education and jobs. The two countries share a nearly 2,600km border.

Pakistan hosts about 3 million Afghan refugees and economic migrants, who have fled violence, religious persecution and poverty in their war-torn country.

Officials in the Pakistan embassy in Kabul were not immediately available for comment.

Source: Reuters/kv

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