KABUL (AP) – Afghanistan on Friday banned the use of a fertilizer chemical also used to make bombs, giving farmers and other holders a month to turn in their supplies.
Protesters, meanwhile, blocked roads and chanted angry slogans against the United States and the Afghan government for a second day southwest of Kabul, amid mounting anger over the killing of four people in a village by NATO forces in volatile Ghazni province.
NATO said Wednesday’s raid in the Qara Bagh district targeted a Taliban commander and the four killed were suspected insurgents, including a 15-year-old boy shot while allegedly reaching for a soldier’s gun. But villagers insisted the dead were civilians.
The conflicting claims reflect growing impatience among Afghans over the presence of NATO-led forces, even though a recent U.N. report showed the number of civilian deaths attributed to allied troops had dropped sharply over the past year. The report blamed most civilian casualties on Taliban suicide bombings and other attacks.
International and Afghan security forces have stepped up operations as the U.S. and its allies begin sending 37,000 reinforcements to try to rout the Taliban. Militants also have increased their campaign with a series of attacks, including an assault on the Afghan capital on Monday.
Reflecting heightened concerns, President Hamid Karzai’s office issued a decree banning the use, production, storage, purchase or sale of ammonium nitrate and giving Afghans 30 days to turn in any supplies to authorities.
The decision was made after an investigation showed that militants had used the chemical in a series of bombings, according to a statement.
NATO-led forces already have been confiscating the chemical compound, urging farmers to use fertilizer containing urea nitrate instead. Ammonium nitrate fertilizer has been used to make about 95 percent of the bombs in Afghanistan, according to the military think tank Globalsecurity.org.
The government also ordered training for police and border customs house workers to detect the chemical. It warned violators who fail to turn in supplies of ammonium nitrate will face court action.
Afghanistan’s government gave U.S. and allied forces permission to confiscate ammonium nitrate in September and troops have been seizing huge quantities of fertilizer in return for compensation for the holder.
A joint force of NATO and Afghan troops found a truck carrying 10 tons of suspect fertilizer in the southern province of Kandahar earlier this month.