Hundreds of protestors from Faryab province once again called on government to free Nizamuddin Qaisari, the police chief of Qaisar district and a close aide to the First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum, as their protest entered its fourth day on Friday.
The protesters also said they want Dostum, who is in exile in Turkey, to return to the country.
Friday’s protest was held peacefully, and the protesters said government must accept their demands.
“We are not afraid of death or being wounded. We will continue our protest until our demand is accepted,” a resident of Faryab said.
“Our demand from Presidential Palace and (President) Ashraf Ghani is that he should address our demand as soon as possible,” another resident of Faryab said.
Meanwhile, members of the Islamic National Movement of Afghanistan – also known as Junbish-e-Milli – claimed that Afghan National Army Special Forces raided on Qaisari’s house in Maimana city on Thursday night.
They said the Special Forces first surrounded Qaisari’s house and then opened fire in which two bodyguards of Qaisari were killed and two others wounded.
“They (government forces) entered their house while violating respect of a family. They took everything that was valuable in the house. We have no information on Mr. Qaisari’s fate,” Bashir Ahmad Tayyanj, spokesman of the party, said.
Officials from 209 Shaheen Military Corps meanwhile rejected the raid on Qaisari’s house and said the Special Forces conducted a crackdown against a group of irresponsible armed men in a housenear Faryab Airport in which 25 of them were arrested.
“The crackdown was not on Qaisari’s house; it was in an area besides the airport where a number of individuals were trying to do insurgent activities. They were arrested and some weapons were seized from them,” Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish told TOLOnews on Friday.
The newly appointed governor of Faryab, Naqibullah Fayiq, meanwhile said they are trying to resolve the problem in the near future.
“I am trying to reduce the unrest and unhappiness of the people. I want to be as a bridge between government and the people,” Fayiq said.
Qaisari was arrested by Afghan Commandos on Monday in Faryab after being accused of insulting government.
Immediately after his arrest, Qaisari was flown to Kabul where he is being detained.
Qaisari’s arrest provoked widespread anger in Faryab and last week on Tuesday, hundreds of angry protesters took to the streets of Maimana to demand his release.
By Wednesday, their numbers were in the thousands – with some supporters estimating the crowd to have totaled around 6,000.
At one stage during the protest march, security forces opened fire, which infuriated the crowd. They stormed the governor’s office and set the building on fire.
On Thursday, Mohammad Hanif Rezaee, a spokesman for 209 Shaheen Military Corps, said the delegation had appealed to protestors to end their demonstration.
Rezaee said the delegation arrived in Maimana on Wednesday night and by Thursday afternoon had met with tribal elders, civil society activists and local Ulema members.
He said the delegation includes Abdul Matin Bek, the head of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG); Mohammad Sharif Yaftali, Chief of General Staff Afghan National Army (ANA); General Akhtar Ibrahimi, senior deputy head of the Interior Ministry; and Ebadullah Ebad, the deputy provincial head of National Directorate of Security (NDS).
Rezaee said “the talks between the delegation and tribal elders lasted for hours and finally the elders agreed that if authorities release Qaisari then they will call off the protests”.
He also said that the situation in Maimana had returned to normal after two days of demonstrations and that shops have been reopened.
The tension in Faryab started brewing on Monday after Qaisari was called to a meeting at the military command in the province and then arrested. Some of his supporters said the meeting had been a trap.