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Stampede in Afghanistan kills 11 seeking exit visas

Stampede in Afghanistan kills 11 seeking exit visas
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At least 11 women in Afghanistan were trampled to death on Wednesday in a stampede that broke out among thousands of people lined up to get visas to leave the country. 

According to The Associated Press, Attaullah Khogyani, the spokesman for the governor of the eastern Nangarhar province, said that an additional 13 people were injured at the soccer stadium where people had gathered to get visas to travel to neighboring Pakistan. 

Khogyani added that most of the women who died were elderly. 

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The Pakistani Consulate in Nangarhar was closed for almost eight months due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Khogyani told the AP that with expectations of large crowds Wednesday, officials decided to use the stadium and assigned 320 staffers to oversee the visa process. 

According to the AP, the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul issued more than 19,000 visas in the past week alone after Pakistan approved a more accessible visa policy and reopened the border last month.  

Millions of Afghans have fled the country in response to decades-long wars and conflicts, with the AP reporting that thousands of people also travel back and forth between Afghanistan and Pakistan for work, business or health care.

The news on the stampede came as Afghan officials also announced that at least 36 members of the Afghan police force were killed in an ambush attack by Taliban militants in the northern part of the country. 

Rahim Danish, director of the main hospital in northern Takhar province, confirmed receiving 36 bodies following Wednesday’s attack on police, with another eight security forces wounded.

The AP reported that the attack was the deadliest since the Taliban and Afghan government launched peace talks last month. If a peace deal is reached between the two parties, it would be the first time in decades that a new form of governance is adopted through diplomatic means rather than through internal or foreign military force.

The peace talks followed a February deal signed by the Taliban and the Trump administration, in which President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Republican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race MORE agreed to a gradual withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan and to put pressure on Kabul to hand over 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for Taliban-Afghan dialogue.