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Afghan Authorities Release Militia Leader After Violent Demonstrations


Afghan authorities have released on bail a militia leader accused of human rights abuses following days of violent demonstrations over his detention.

The office of Vice President Sarwar Danish said on November 26 that Abdul Ghani Alipur, the leader of a private militia in central Afghanistan, had been released but that judicial organizations would follow up on allegations against him.

Alipur, a member of the country's Shi'ite Hazara minority, was arrested in the capital, Kabul, on November 24.

His release on November 26 came after two days of demonstrations in which hundreds of Hazara protesters clashed with police in Kabul.

The Interior Ministry said 48 police officers were wounded and eight police checkpoints set on fire during two days of demonstrations. They said no one was killed.

Health officials said at least 19 protesters were wounded.

Demonstrators claim security forces shot at protesters and killed at least three people.

Protests were also held in the provinces of Bamiyan, Daikundi, and Balkh, although no violence was reported there.

Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS), the country's main intelligence agency, accused Alipur of leading an illegal private militia of 350 armed men.

The government accuses him of conducting criminal activities, including extortion, in the guise of fighting the Taliban.

Alipur, known as Commander Sword, has said he was simply protecting Hazaras from the Taliban, a mainly Pashtun group.

While his main base is in Wardak Province, Alipur’s militia also operates in other parts of Afghanistan where Hazara communities face security problems.

Despite the accusations against him, Alipur has enjoyed the support of powerful Hazara leaders and remains popular with the community, which has been embittered by what they see as government inaction in the face of deadly militant attacks against the minority group.

With reporting by Tolo News, dpa, and Reuters