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Gen Dostum is unhurt as explosion targets Kabul airport

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AFP

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Gen Dostum on banners. His return may be linked to the election next year

An explosion has rocked Kabul airport shortly after Afghan Vice-President Abdul Rashid Dostum returned from self-imposed exile.

The interior ministry said 10 people were killed in a square that Gen Dostum had just passed through. He was unhurt.

The ethnic Uzbek and former warlord was cheered by supporters on arrival.

He left for Turkey more than a year ago, accused of ordering his men to kidnap and rape a political rival, accusations he denies.

The cause of the blast has not been officially determined but Afghan media said it was a suicide bombing.

Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said a number of people were also injured in the blast, near the airport entrance.

Some reports said Gen Dostum’s convoy was departing as the blast was heard. He was in an armoured vehicle.

Television footage showed Gen Dostum greeting supporters at his office not long after the explosion.

Former ally’s allegations

Gen Dostum’s reappearance was preceded by unrest in his powerbase in northern Afghanistan, as supporters demanded his return and the release of a militia leader.

Analysts believe President Ashraf Ghani sanctioned the return of Gen Dostum to try to shore up support ahead of the presidential election next year.

Gen Dostum helped the US oust the Taleban in 2001 but has been blamed for some of the worst atrocities in the country’s long-running civil war.

He joined its national unity government in 2014.

Ahmad Eshchi, a former ally, said he had suffered days of severe beatings and sexual abuse at Gen Dostum’s command.

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Reuters

Image caption

Ahmad Eshchi showed reporters an injury on his leg last year

He said the vice-president and 10 other men assaulted him while he was forcibly kept at Gen Dostum’s residence in November 2016.

The ex-warlord denies the claims and has said that Mr Eshchi was detained by Afghanistan’s intelligence service.

Gen Dostum’s spokesman said he went to Turkey simply for a medical check-up.


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