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Afghan VP Escapes Blast in Kabul       07/22 10:49

   KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Afghanistan's first vice president, a former 
Uzbek warlord, escaped unharmed from an explosion near the airport as he 
returned home on Sunday after living in Turkey for over a year, according to 
security officials.

   Najib Danish, a spokesman for the interior ministry, said a suicide bomber 
carried out the attack near Kabul International Airport shortly after the 
convoy of the country's controversial first vice president had left the airport.

   Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum and his entourage were unharmed, said Danish. He 
added that authorities were still determining if there were any casualties.

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

   Dostum had been undergoing medical treatment in Turkey, and is now well and 
ready to resume work, said presidential spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri.

   Dostum left Afghanistan in 2017 after the attorney-general's office launched 
an investigation into allegations that his followers had tortured and sexually 
abused a former ally turned political rival. He has since reportedly been 
barred by the government from returning to Afghanistan.

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

   "The judiciary in Afghanistan is an independent body and will 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 fall of the Taliban 
government in 2001, has also been criticized by the United States for human 
rights abuses.


(KA)

 
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