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Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Sabawoon

Afghan vice president fights off Taliban

August 21, 2015

Vice President Dostum, a veteran of clashes with the Taliban, has emerged unharmed from an attack by the militants. The former militia commander has been eager to join the front lines in the fight against the insurgents.


Afghanistan's strongman vice president, General Abdul Rashid Dostum, escaped a Taliban ambush unharmed on Friday, but he and his men were able to kill four of the insurgents and take 13 prisoners, an official said.

Around 20 militants opened fire on the vice president's convoy while he was traveling in an armored vehicle along a remote highway in the province of Faryab, according to police chief Subhan Qul, who was also in the convoy.

"As a result of almost three hours of fighting at least four Taliban are killed and 13 are captured alive," said an official from Dostum's media office.

Hardened fighter

The former military commander, who made his way into the political mainstream last year when President Ashraf Ghani tapped him for his running mate, is no stranger to skirmishes with the Taliban. Before the 2001 US military intervention to oust the Taliban, Dostum led a personal army fighting the Islamists. He has been accused of committing war crimes against Taliban fighters, including deliberately killing 2,000 prisoners in shipping containers - something he vehemently denies.

Dostum longed to return to the front line, but because of President Ghani's concerns about Afghanistan spiraling back into all-out violence, opted instead to tour Faryab with local soldiers and police to boost morale.

"Whether I command or don't command, my presence will get things done," the burly commander known as General Dostum said in a rare press conference in July.

"My presence will be felt. The police, the army know this very well. You will see - even the women will be throwing rocks at the Taliban," the ethnic Uzbek vice president added.

es/tj (AP, Reuters)

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