Afghan Vice President Survives Second Assassination Attempt
Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, Vice President of Afghanistan, survived a second assassination attempt after the Taliban attacked a convoy escorting the general on Sunday, March 30. According to officials, the attack killed one of Dostum’s bodyguards and injured two others.
Taliban militants organized a second attack on the convoy in Ghazni, a city in central Afghanistan. The follow-up attack claimed the lives of nine police officers, according to officials.
The attack took place in the Northern province of Balkh, where Dostum was leading a rally. The Vice President was being escorted back to his home province of Jowzjan. According to Bashir Ahmed Tayenj, a spokesperson for Dostum’s Junbish Party, Dostum had been aware of the planned attack yet chose to proceed traveling back to Jowzjan.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt in a tweet. Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesperson for the militant group, stated that four guards were killed and six others were wounded from the attack.
Dostum had been leading an election rally in the capital of Balkh, Mazar-i-Sharif after he joined the presidential campaign for Abdullah Abdullah, Afghan Chief Executive. The Vice President claimed that he could remove the Taliban presence in Balkh within six months if only he had the approval from the government.
“Taliban miscreants must know that with every attack they carry out on our political leaders, our resolve gets further strengthened to defeat them,” said Abdullah, in a statement following the attack.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has chosen to run with Amrullah Saleh, instead of Dostum, for the upcoming presidential election in September this year. Saleh is an ethnic Tajik and the acting Minister of Interior.
Despite characterizing Dostum as a “known killer,” Ghani still chose the general as his running mate in the 2014 presidential election. To garner support from the provinces bordering Uzbekistan, Ghani chose Dostum, ethnically an Uzbek.
Dostum is known for ordering and committing violent acts during his reign as a powerful Uzbek warlord turned politician.
The military general has been sent into exile to Turkey twice before for charges of kidnapping, beating and ordering the sexual assault of political rivals. In 2009, he was accused of doing so to Akbar Bai and then to Ahmad Ischi in 2016. The vice president has yet to face prosecution for the charges.
The first assassination attempt was carried out last year when Dostum returned to Afghanistan following his second exile in Turkey, on July 22. Moments following Dostum’s exit from the airport, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive claiming the lives of 23 people and wounded 60 others. ISIS claimed responsibility for this attack.
The Taliban’s attack on Dostum is part of the recent uptick in fighting on both sides as talks between the militant group and the Afghan government approach. For the first time in 18 years, the United States faces the prospect of brokering a peace accord between the Taliban and the government.