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Kabul rioters burn SUVs, yell 'Death to America'

/ Source: staff and news service reports

Afghan police fired shots on Friday to disperse hundreds of people protesting the deaths of civilians in an accident involving a U.S. Embassy vehicle, officials said.

A crowd of angry Afghans shouted "Death to America," hurled stones and set fire to two SUVs after the crash on a road leading to Kabul's airport, according to the capital's criminal investigations chief, Abdul Ghaafar Sayedzada.

A NATO official told AFP the vehicles involved in the crash belonged to the U.S. Embassy.

A police official at the scene said four Afghan civilians were killed in the accident, while the U.S. Embassy said there were fatalities and serious injuries.

AFP reported that a NATO quick-reaction force was sent to the area, which is not far from the U.S. Embassy.

The accident, near the Masood Circle landmark in the airport/diplomatic area, sparked anger among local residents who torched two embassy vehicles and pelted police with rocks when they tried to intervene.

"The civilian vehicle was trying to get into the main road when the two foreign vehicles hit it and killed all four occupants," local resident Saleh Ahmed told AFP. "People gathered around the crash site to see what had happened, got angry and started attacking the foreigners."

Civilian casualties caused by foreign troops in Afghanistan is one of the most sensitive issues between the government of Hamid Karzai and its foreign backers and has sparked violent street protests in Afghanistan in the past.

A fatal traffic accident caused by a U.S. military convoy in 2006 triggered an anti-American riot in Kabul that left at least 14 people dead and dozens injured.

Dead delisted
Meanwhile, five Taliban were struck off a U.N. Security Council list of people subject to sanctions — a move sought by Kabul to ease reconciliation talks with insurgents, a U.N. diplomat said.

The move followed a review of the list of Taliban and al-Qaida members maintained by a Security Council committee. Two of the five were delisted because they were dead, the diplomat said.

Afghanistan had pressed the committee to take some names off the list as part of a scheduled update. A "peace Jirga" in Afghanistan last month recommended negotiations with moderate Taliban leaders and other insurgents to end a worsening nine-year war in the country.

Diplomats said Karzai had been seeking the delisting of about a dozen Taliban, either because they had joined the government side or because they were dead.

But Russia, which sits on the committee along with other Security Council members, had been cautious about deleting names, they said.

The diplomat named the five delisted as Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad Awrang, a former Afghan ambassador to the United Nations, Abdul Salam Zaeef and Abdul Satar Paktin, as well as Abdul Samad Khaksar and Muhammad Islam Mohammadi, who have both died.