KUNDUZ, Afghanistan — In a time of warfare and corruption, when one hand grips a gun and the opposite opens to be greased, even the happiest of events can flip lethal.
On Sunday, after a marriage convoy within the northern Afghan province of Kunduz left the bride’s home for the groom’s, it was stopped at a checkpoint close to a busy picnic spot. Afghan forces, the marriage individuals mentioned, requested for cash — not an uncommon request of newlyweds right here.
On this case, the marriage social gathering tried to cut price. The troopers made clear it was a requirement, witnesses mentioned. Then got here violence: One of many troopers opened hearth, killing two folks — Mohammed Yonus, 14, and Rahimullah, 27.
Hamidullah Langar, a cousin of the groom, mentioned the troopers had requested for 1,000 afghanis, roughly $15. Mr. Langar handed them 200, about $three — roughly half a day’s wages. They’d not settle for.
Then, one of many bikes that was behind the newlyweds’ automobile drove previous the troopers. The 2 younger males using on it had been shot lifeless.
“They fired as a result of convoy members tried to cross earlier than the marriage folks had cleared the cost problem,” Mr. Langar mentioned.
Particulars of the episode had been confirmed by a number of members of the family, in addition to native elders. Afghan officers, nonetheless, denied that there had been a disagreement over a cost.
They mentioned that the troopers on the checkpoint had been on excessive alert — Afghan forces have been dying in document numbers — and that that they had fired on the passing motorbike out of nervousness.
“There was nothing about cash right here,” mentioned Halim Shah, the commander of the armed forces unit in Dasht-e-Abdan, the place the capturing occurred. The motorbike driver refused orders to cease, he mentioned.
“There was a misunderstanding, and our boys fired by mistake, and two of our countrymen who had been a part of the marriage convoy had been killed,” Mr. Shah mentioned.
He mentioned the soldier who had opened hearth had been detained. A protest by villagers who blocked the primary street on Monday was dispersed after officers assured them that the soldier could be prosecuted.
The deadly capturing got here at a second of excessive stress for Afghan forces. On Monday, at the very least 25 members of the nation’s safety forces had been killed in Taliban assaults in numerous components of the nation, officers mentioned.
The bloodiest episode occurred within the Bala Murghab District, in Badghis Province within the nation’s west, the place 15 troopers had been killed, in line with Abdul Aziz Beg, the top of the provincial council.
In Sar-i-Pul Province, within the north, the Taliban attacked a safety outpost within the Sozma Qala District, killing 5 troopers, wounding two and taking six others hostage, in line with Khairullah, a neighborhood police commander.
The Taliban additionally suffered casualties within the two assaults, officers mentioned, with out offering particulars. A lot of the Afghan response depends on airstrikes, and the Afghan Protection Ministry mentioned its forces had carried out six of them.
The ministry put the variety of Taliban killed on Monday at 36, although it’s identified to magnify enemy casualties.
Mr. Beg, in Badghis, warned that the Taliban threatened to overrun the Bala Murghab District if reinforcements didn’t arrive.
“Nobody is taking note of the state of affairs right here,” Mr. Beg mentioned. “There may very well be an enormous catastrophe within the district if the federal government retains ignoring the continuing state of affairs.”
American efforts to achieve a take care of the Taliban have been gaining momentum, however officers anticipate this 12 months’s preventing season to be particularly bloody as either side attempt to use battlefield good points as leverage within the negotiations.
Asadullah Khalid, Afghanistan’s protection minister, mentioned final week that intelligence studies confirmed that the Taliban had been making ready for warfare “with all their drive this season.”
Earlier than the marriage in Kunduz turned to mourning, the ceremony had the same old jubilation. Including to the enjoyment was the spring picnic season within the space, the place households take to the huge Abdan desert, which turns lush with greenery and roses.
The groom, Abdul Halim, is a laborer who masses and unloads cement from vans coming from Tajikistan, mentioned his cousin, Mr. Langar. For the marriage, he had ready meals for about 1,000 visitors.
When the ceremony on the bride’s house was over and the groom picked up his bride, the social gathering of dozens of automobiles and bikes determined to take a detour by the luxurious desert to rejoice additional. The convoy performed music, sang, cheered and even stopped to interrupt into dance.
Then got here the encounter with the guards on the checkpoint.
“Our happiness was was blood,” Mr. Langar mentioned.