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Afghan Vice President Dostum survives Taliban convoy ambush

Former Taliban fighters (Lt. Joe Painter/Department of Defense)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Afghanistan’s controversial Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum has escaped unhurt from a suspected Taliban attack that killed one of his bodyguards, police said.

A regional police spokesman said attackers ambushed Dostum’s convoy on March 30 on the way from Mazar-e Sharif, a city in Balkh Province, to Jawzjan Province in northern Afghanistan.

Munir Ahmad Farhad, spokesman for the provincial governor of Balkh, said on March 31 that Taliban militants attacked the convoy at two points, in the Char Bolak and then Faiz Abad district.

A statement by Afghanistan’s army says four Taliban were killed, and seven others wounded, during the two assaults.

On Twitter, a Taliban spokesman said its militants had carried out the attack and claimed four of Dostum’s bodyguards had been killed.

The apparent assassination attempt on Dostum comes eight months after the ethnic Uzbek former warlord avoided injury in a suicide bombing at Kabul airport.

That attack, which was claimed by Islamic State, took place as he returned home from more than a year in exile in Turkey after he was accused of being involved in the rape and torture of a political rival. Dostum denied the charges.

Dostum, accused of human rights abuses, remains a powerful figure in Afghanistan. His Junbish Party is supported mainly by his fellow ethnic Uzbeks.

Dostum has joined the election team of Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, one of several contenders in a presidential election scheduled for September 28.