At least 15 people were killed in stampede among thousands of Afghans gathered near Pakistan's consulate Wednesday, October 21, as jostling broke out between people applying for visas, officials in the eastern city of Jalalabad said.
READ MORE: Witnesses said thousands of Afghans had gathered Wednesday morning in a stadium outside the consulate in Jalalabad waiting to collect tokens required to apply for a Pakistani visa before jostling broke out between applicants.
A provincial government spokesman told VOA at least 15 people, including 11 elderly women, were crushed to death in the ensuing stampede. Attaullah Khogyani said that many more people were trampled, including women, as they tried to exit the stadium. He expected the number of casualties to rise.
A Pakistan Embassy statement issued in Kabul expressed “deep grief and sadness” over the loss of Afghan lives. It noted that the stadium is 5 kilometers away from the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad where Afghan authorities gather and organize visa applicants.
Pakistan has recently relaxed visa rules for Afghans to encourage people-to-people contacts between the two countries, which share a nearly 2,600-kilometer border.
The new visa policy has prompted thousands of people to rush to the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul and four consulates elsewhere in Afghanistan to apply for visas to secure medical treatment, education and jobs in the neighboring country.