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Violent Protests Leave 1 Dead in Kabul - 2003-11-23

A rare, violent protest by former Afghanistan defense ministry employees has left one demonstrator dead and at least four injured in the capital Kabul.

Several hundred ex-employees of the Afghan defense ministry marched through the center of the city Sunday, demanding unpaid salaries and assistance in finding new work.

Witnesses say the protest turned violent when the demonstrators reached the defense ministry building and some began smashing windows and forcing their way in.

Protesters say guards at the site then fired into the crowd. But defense officials say the guards fired into the air only after some demonstrators shot their own weapons at the building.

Police arrested at least a dozen protesters, and some of the demonstrators promised to continue their protest Monday.

Former defense ministry workers, laid off during government reforms earlier this year, have held other demonstrations, but those gatherings have been peaceful.