MAZAR-I-SHARIF Two men were killed and five others injured in gunfire at a protestors in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province, on Friday.

Hundreds of residents of the Sajjadia Township staged the protest for land ownership rights, blaming Deputy Governor Muhammad Zahir Wahdat and township director, Ghulam Rasul, for the resale of their plots.

The township was constructed seven years ago and Rasul wanted to re-sell per square metre of land for $20, claimed protestor Muhammad Hussain. When the demonstrators moved toward Rasul’s office, he opened fire at the protestors from the roof of the building.

Rahima Ahmadabadi, a doctor on duty at the Balkh Civil Hospital, confirmed receiving two bodies and five injured protestors. One of the wounded was in critical condition, she said.

One of the demonstrators, Salim Bai, said he had purchased a piece of land in the township seven years ago. Despite having ownership documents, he is allegedly being pressured into buying the plot anew.

But Rasul, in charge of the township scheme, rejected the protestors’ allegations as baseless. He said they wanted to get back the possession of a piece of public land occupied by residents.

He had to fire at the protestors in self-defence, Rasul said, claiming the angry men — who urged the authorities to resolve the issue — wanted to set his office on fire.

Balkh police chief, Gen. Asmatullah Alizai, confirmed the casualties. However, he refused to give further details.