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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 March 2008, 16:06 GMT
Afghan shops join doctors' strike
Hospital in Afghanistan
Doctors say emergency treatment is not affected
Shops and factories in the Afghan province of Herat have joined a strike by doctors to demand better security.

The indefinite strike, now in its fourth day, was started by medical staff in protest against a recent rise in attacks on staff and their families.

The central hospital in Herat is at a standstill and pharmacies and private clinics are also closed.

The Afghan government is sending a delegation to Herat in an effort to deal with the crisis.

On Monday, the government threatened the striking doctors with legal action if they didn't return to work.

Map

Several hundred doctors and medical workers started an indefinite strike on Saturday in protest at a recent rise in the number of attacks on medical staff.

The strike was caused by the kidnapping of the son of a local doctor in Herat last week.

He was the latest in a number of doctors or doctors' relatives to have been abducted over the past year.

Kidnappers are reported to have demanded $300,000 (149,000) for his release.

Visitors to Herat's normally busy main hospital say it is unusually quiet at the moment, without the usual crowds of people waiting for treatment.

The health workers' strike has hit medical services in the area hard, paralysing the hospital itself and leading to the closure of local pharmacies and private clinics.

It has reached far beyond Herat city itself - the city is an important regional centre and people travel there from surrounding districts and neighbouring provinces.

The doctors are demanding that security forces secure the release of the doctor's son, who was abducted in Herat city last week, and that overall security be improved.

It is not clear who is behind the wave of kidnappings aimed at doctors and their families.


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