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Afghan Militia Commander's Arrest Sparks Violent Protests


Nizamuddin Qaisari, who is also a district police chief, was arrested on July 2 after he allegedly insulted and threatened to kill people during a provincial security meeting.

Afghan officials say at least one person has been killed and eight others wounded in the northern province of Faryab after protests over the arrest of a powerful pro-government militia commander turned violent.

Hundreds of people gathered on July 4 for a second day in the provincial capital, Maimana, demanding the release of commander Nizamuddin Qaisari, who is also a district police chief.

Qaisari was arrested on July 2 after he allegedly insulted and threatened to kill people during a provincial security meeting.

Qaisari is close to fellow ethnic Uzbek warlord and Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum, who fled to Turkey last year after he was accused of being involved in the rape and torture of a political rival.

Qaisari's arrest drew angry protests from Dostum supporters. Protesters chanting "Death to [President Ashraf] Ghani and the government" marched in the streets, setting fire to vehicles and parts of the governor's compound.

Provincial police spokesman Karim Yurish said the demonstrations turned violent when protesters tried to force their way into the governor's compound and security forces fired in the air to stop them.

Provincial council chief Mohammad Tahir Rahmani said at least one person was killed and eight wounded in the firing.

Local media quoted some protesters as saying that they will continue the rallies until Qaisari is freed.

The tension highlighted fragile security in Faryab, where Islamic State fighters have gained a foothold, battling militia commanders loosely affiliated with the government.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and Tolo News
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