The bank run in Afghanistan we mentioned over the weekend took a turn for the nasty today.
A mob of depositors swarmed Kabul Bank’s single open branch, only to be literally beaten back by police.
More than 500 government employees, including local police officers, Afghan National Army soldiers and teachers, mobbed the sole Kabul Bank branch that remained open, only to be kept at bay by armed police from the country’s National Directorate of Security. The crowds pressed in so closely that the NDS police started punching and shoving people to keep them back. The guards also threatened to destroy the cameras of journalists attempting to take pictures of the scene. An Associated Press cameraman was punched before jumping into a car and speeding off.
“This is shameful that these simple police officers are beating up more high-ranking officers,” said Abdul Hanan, a policeman who had come to collect his $450 monthly salary. “We are educated people, not animals. We need to get our salaries. I have worked in more than 20 provinces but I am standing out here unable to get my salary.”
Kabul Bank is the largest private bank in the country, and while this crisis won’t destabilize the world financial system, it could destabilize Afghanistan.
The initial bank run was sparked by reports of massive corrupt loans made by the bank, and scared depositors have already pulled almost half of the bank’s $500 in cash, and the government has been forced to freeze $100 – 150 million of the remainder in order to cover basic operating expenses.