Suicide blast kills 14 near Afghanistan airport

KABUL, Afghanistan — Fourteen people were killed when a suicide bomber carried out an attack near Kabul’s airport in Afghanistan on Sunday, authorities said. They said the blast narrowly missed the country’s vice president who was returning home after living in Turkey for more than a year.

Najib Danish, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said the blast occurred near Kabul International Airport shortly after the convoy of the controversial vice president had just left the airport. 

Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, a former Uzbek warlord, and his entourage were unharmed, said Danish. Fourteen people, including both civilians and military forces, were killed in the attack and 50 others wounded, police said.

The Islamic States of Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) local affiliate claimed responsibility for the attack on its Amaaq News Agency website, claiming it had killed and wounded over 115 people. The attacker set off his explosives just outside the airport’s gate, police spokesperson Hashmat Stanikzai told BBC News.

In a statement from the presidential palace, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani strongly condemned the attack. Dostum had been undergoing medical treatment in Turkey, and is now well and ready to resume work, said presidential spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri.

Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum arrives at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul

Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum arrives at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 22, 2018.

Omar Sobhani / REUTERS

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.

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