Afghan Vice President Survives Second Assassination Attempt In Less Than A Year

Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum was not harmed in ambushes by Taliban insurgents over the weekend, Afghan officials said Sunday.

At least one of his guards died during two attacks on General Dostum’s convoy Saturday afternoon local time, according to news wires, as the convoy was traveling from the northern province of Balkh to neighboring Zawzjan province.

Munir Ahmad Farhad, spokesman for the provincial governor of Balkh, told The Associated Press that two other guards were wounded. Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the attack on Twitter.

Afghanistan’s army said in a statement that four Taliban were killed and seven others wounded, AP reports.

A spokesman for Dostum’s Junbish Party told Reuters that Dostum was aware of a planned attack. Junbish, or the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan, is a political party in Afghanistan primarily made up of Uzbeks, the minority ethnic group to which Dostum belongs.

Known as a former warlord, Dostum is a controversial figure embattled by accusations of rape and torture of a political rival. He has been a key player in Afghanistan since the early 1990s, and First Vice President under President Ashraf Ghani since 2014. He had survived a previous attempt on his life when he returned home from exile in Turkey last year.

Dostum fled to Turkey in 2017 amid a criminal investigation into allegations of rape from a northern elder in his home province and ensuing pressure from Western backers of Ghani’s government, including the United States. Seven of his bodyguards were convicted in absentia of sexual assault and illegal imprisonment of the rival politician, according to Human Rights Watch.

But the vice president returned to Afghanistan in July 2018. Shortly after his arrival at Kabul’s international airport, a suicide bomber detonated explosives at a traffic circle at the airport’s exit, killing 20 people, including nine members of Dostum’s security detail. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack, according to SITE Intel Group.

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