KABUL - Nervous Afghans pulled more deposits out of the nation's largest bank on Saturday, despite assurances from government leaders that their money was safe.
Crowds gathered at Kabul Bank branches around the capital to withdraw dollar and Afghan currency savings, with customers saying they had lost faith in the bank’s solvency following a change in leadership and reports that tens of millions of dollars had been lent to political elites for risky real estate investments.
“Kabul Bank has lost the trust of the people. Even the chairman resigned so all the people are concerned,” said Mohammad Nawaz, head of an Afghan aid group who had tried for three hours to withdraw the $15,000 in his account.
The bank run that began earlier in the week undermines efforts by the central government to build an efficient political and financial system to drag Afghanistan out of its dire poverty.
Problems at the bank also could have wide-ranging political repercussions since it handles the pay for Afghan public servants, soldiers and police in the unstable nation beset by a Taliban insurgency, widespread drug trafficking and the plundering of aid money.
While there was little apparent sign of panic, the deputy commander of the international coalition in Afghanistan said contingency plans were being drawn up to respond in the event of unrest.
As of Saturday, at least 1,172 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count.
As of Saturday, at least 4,416 members of the U.S. military had died in the Iraq War since it began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.