Asia-Pacific

At least 15 Afghans killed in a stampede caused by thousands jostling for visas

Relatives carry the coffin of a victim killed in the outside a mortuary in Jalalabad on October 21, 2020. Source: AFP

Eleven of the 15 confirmed victims were women, and several elderly people were among more than a dozen injured.

At least 15 people were killed in stampede among thousands of Afghans gathered outside Pakistan’s consulate on Tuesday 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.

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.

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“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 2,600-kilometre 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.

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