Gunbattles are common enough in Afghanistan, but at times they don’t even need to involve occupation troops or the insurgency, apparently. Today, a major clash in the Jowzjan Province erupted at the governor’s mansion, between his bodyguards and a militia run by the Afghan Army Chief of Staff.
The chief of staff, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, is one of Afghanistan’s most notorious warlords, and has held the position off and on since the US occupation began. During his time on the CIA payroll, Dostum was responsible for the 2001 Dasht-e Leili massacre, in which 2,000 prisoners of the US invasion were shot or suffocated to death.
His militia, which operates independently of the actual Afghan military, surrounded the governor’s mansion this morning, sparking a 20 minute firefight. Dostum’s spokesmen later claimed that the governor’s forces “opened fire first,” but it isn’t clear why he surrounded the mansion in the first place. The governor says Dostum had threatened to kill him and “his whole family.”
Provincial police confirmed the incident but insisted they were not involved in the fighting, as by the time police arrived the fighting had already ended. The Karzai government has yet to comment on the matter.
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