KABUL, Afghanistan — After more than a year in exile, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum returned to his native Afghanistan on Sunday facing criminal charges of rape and kidnapping, as well as accusations of brutality, human rights abuses and killing his first wife.
General Dostum also remains the country’s first vice president.
Waiting to greet him on Sunday at Kabul’s international airport was a government delegation and, apparently, a suicide bomber.
An array of top officials met his plane and, despite the criminal charges against him, they gave him safe passage — not to jail, but to his office and home, in a deal that Afghan officials have said was negotiated by President Ashraf Ghani in the wake of widespread protests and unrest among his fellow Uzbeks.
Moments after he left the airport, however, a suicide bomber detonated explosives at the traffic circle at the exit, killing 20 people, including nine members of a security detail assigned to General Dostum, and wounding 90 others, according to police and health officials.
“Just as we passed the roundabout, we heard a boom. I said, ‘Oh God,’ ” General Dostum told a crowd of thousands of supporters gathered outside his office in downtown Kabul to cheer his return. “I pray that all the wounded survive.”
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the suicide attack, according to SITE, the extremist monitoring group.