Exiled Afghan Vice President accused of war crimes leaves Turkey

Exiled Afghan Vice President accused of war crimes leaves Turkey

KABUL - The Associated Press

Afghanistan’s first vice president, a former Uzbek warlord, has returned home after more than a year of living in Turkey, a Kabul government official said on July 22.

Dostum had been undergoing medical treatment in Turkey, was now well and would resume work, the spokesman added.

Dostum left the country under controversial circumstances in 2017, after the attorney-general’s office opened an investigation into allegations that his followers had tortured and sexually abused a former ally turned political rival. He had since reportedly been prevented by the government from returning to Afghanistan.

It was not immediately clear whether Dostum will face any charges once home.

“The judiciary in Afghanistan is an independent body and would carry out its duties and responsibilities as it deems appropriate,” said an official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the issue.

Dostum, accused of war crimes committed after the collapse of the Taliban in 2001, has also been criticized by the United States for human rights abuses.

Bomb attack upon return: 11 killed

An Afghan spokesman said there has been a large explosion near the Kabul airport shortly after the country’s controversial first vice president landed on his return from abroad.

Hashmat Stanekzai, spokesman for the Kabul police chief, said that 11 people, including both civilians and military forces, have been killed in the suicide attack near Kabul’s airport shortly after the country’s controversial first vice president landed on his return from abroad.

Mohib Zeer, an official form the public health ministry, also confirmed that 11 people were killed in the attack and 48 others wounded.

Vice President Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, the likely the target of the attack, escaped unharmed.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the explosion, but both Taliban and the Islamic State group are active in the Afghan capital.

Unrest on the streets

Dostum’s return, which has been the subject of much speculation, comes amid violent protests in several provinces across northern Afghanistan -- his traditional power base.

Thousands of Dostum’s supporters have taken to the streets in recent weeks, shuttering election and government offices and blocking sections of highways, demanding the release of a pro-government militia leader and calling for Dostum’s return.

Expectations for Dostum’s arrival have done little to quell the unrest, though, with protesters vowing Sunday to continue demonstrating until the burly leader of the Uzbek minority tells them otherwise. 

"We don’t trust the government. We will continue our protests unless General Dostum tells us to stop," Ehsanullah Qowanch, a protest leader in Faryab province, told AFP. 

Qowanch also repeated calls for the release of Nezamuddin Qaisari -- a district police chief and Dostum’s provincial representative in Faryab -- whose arrest earlier this month ignited the protests.

Suspected suicide bomber shot by police

Afghan police on July 16 shot a suspected suicide bomber as he approached a demonstration in the center of the capital Kabul, officials said.

The man was shot following a challenge by police as he approached a gathering in the Shar-e Naw park in Kabul’s main business area, police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai said, adding that the man was apprehended but died of his wounds.

His apparent target was a demonstration urging that exiled Dostum be allowed to return to Afghanistan from Turkey.