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Afghans demand reprieve for killer of French troops

November 26, 2012

Afghan university students shout anti-US and Israeli slogans during a demonstration in Nangarhar province at Jalalabad on November 26, 2012. — Photo by AFP

JALALABAD: Student demonstrators on Monday demanded that an Afghan soldier sentenced to death for killing five French soldiers be spared execution.

A military court last week rejected an appeal by the soldier, Abdul Sabor, and the Afghan authorities have since executed 14 death row prisoners in two groups including several Taliban insurgents.

Unconfirmed Afghan media reports have suggested that Sabor is among a third group that President Hamid Karzai has approved for execution. Karzai's office has refused to comment on the issue.

So-called green-on-blue attacks have spiralled this year, with a total of 61 Nato soldiers killed by members of the Afghan security forces, fuelling distrust between the allies in the war against the Taliban.

Sabor, who killed five French soldiers on January 20 while they were jogging within their base in the eastern province of Kapisa, is the first Afghan convicted by a court of carrying out such an attack.

The French casualties prompted France to withdraw its combat forces from Afghanistan earlier than planned. It ended its combat mission in Kapisa last week.

About 500 university students blocked a key road linking the eastern town of Jalalabad to the capital Kabul and chanted anti-government slogans, an AFP reporter said.

“We demand the president withdraw a decree that approves the execution of Abdul Sabor, the soldier who is accused of killing five French troops,” a statement by the demonstrators said.

The students demanded an end to the execution of “all political prisoners”, a reference to the Taliban militants held in Afghan prisons.

They also burned Israeli and US flags in protest at the attacks on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during eight days of violence that left six Israelis and 166 Palestinians dead.