Several elderly women killed in Afghan stampede

A video of the stampede circulating on social media showed two bodies fallen on the ground among the milling crowds. Photographs taken by local media showed thousands of people cramming into the stadium with passports and documents in their hands.

Pakistan began issuing visas last week after an eight month hiatus due to covid-19 related restrictions.

People started gathering at the stadium early in the morning after local officials instructed visa applicants to obtain tokens there, said Mohammad Ajmal Omar, a member of Nangahar provincial council.

Omar said the death of the elderly women “dishonored all Afghans,” and he blamed the “incompetent government” for the incident.

Most Afghans visit Pakistan for medical treatment or to see relatives. The border crossing in Nangahar is heavily trafficked in normal times, and thousands of people have been waiting months to cross.

The provincial governor’s office said the decision to invite thousands to the stadium was made to prevent them from massing in front of Pakistan’s consulate. Statement from the office said hundreds of male and female police officers were assigned to provide security and maintain order.

“Unfortunately, tens of thousands of people came to the soccer stadium this morning, which led to this unfortunate incident,” the statement added.

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