Kabul airport blast as brutal Uzbek leader Dostum returns

Kabul airport blast as brutal Uzbek leader Dostum returns to Afghanistan
2 min read
22 July, 2018
A blast was heard as Uzbek leader and Afghani Vice President Dostum returned after more than a year in exile.
[File Photo: Getty]

A blast near Kabul's international airport was heard on Sunday, shortly after the return of controversial Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum who fled the country after being linked to the rape and torture of a political opponent.

Casualties were feared in the blast, with an AFP reporter at the airport saying the explosion happened just as Dostum was leaving with a large crowd of government officials and supporters.

According to spokesperson Bashir Ahmad Tayanj, Dostum was travelling in an armoured vehicle and was unharmed. The number of casualties is yet unknown. 

Dostum, a powerful ethnic Uzbek leader and former warlord, returned to Afghanistan after more than a year in exile.

His return comes at a time of renewed violence in Afghanistan, particularly in the north of the country, his traditional power base.

Intense protests have been held by Dostum's supporters in recent weeks, shuttering election and government offices and blocking roads demanding his return.

Protesters have vowed to continue these protests until the Uzbek minority leader tells them otherwise.

Dostum is one of several controversial figures that Kabul has sought to reintegrate into mainstream politics since the US-led invasion in 2001. He allegedly allowed hundreds of Taliban prisoners to be suffocated to death in shipping containers following the US-led overthrow of the Taliban regime in 2001.