6 hunger strikers hospitalized as Helmand peace rally widens

LASHKARGAH: Six hunger strikers have been hospitalized in the capital of southern Helmand province after their condition deteriorated, sources said on Saturday.

A number of people have been on hunger strike since Thursday demanding both sides of the warring parties to the Afghanistan conflict to enter a ceasefire.

The rare strike began after dozens of people were killed and wounded in a suicide attack near Ghazi Mohammad Ayub Khan Stadium in Lashkargah City, the capital of Helmand province on March 23.

The following day, a number of youth erected a tent in the incident area calling for peace. Women also erected a tent near the first one for the same purpose just on the day two of the attack March 25.

However, a number of protestors went on hunger strike last Thursday. Pacha Khan, one of the protestors, told Pajhwok Afghan News that neither the government nor the Taliban had so far positively responded to their demand about ensuring peace in the country.

“A number of our friends have been on hunger strike for the last 40 hours, the condition of six of the strikers is critical and they were shifted to hospital on Friday night,” he added.

Iqbal Khyber, another protestor, said 30 people were on hunger strike and six of them landed in hospital after their condition worsened.

“We would continue our struggle, this movement would get further stronger,” he said.

Sardar Mohammad, one of the strikers, said “They (doctors) injected a serum to me, I am ready to die in this tent for the sake of peace,”

He asked other people to join their movement until peace was restored in the country.

Officials at the Bust Civil Hospital in Lashkargah city, said that four of hunger strikers were brought to the hospital on Friday night and two others on Saturday morning. They said the health condition of four of the strikers was critical.

On the other hand, civil society activists also announced their support for the movement and urged the Taliban and the government to put an end to the war.

Nazar Mohammad Rodi, talking on behalf of civil society institutes in Helmand, said the civil society supported the movement for peace.

“The power of people is the power of God, if we get united, we can ensure peace,” he said.

The governor’s spokesman, Omar Zwak, said the government accepted all demands of the protestors but the Taliban did not.

By Zainullah Stanikzai, Kabul

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