Afghan authorities released a popular militia commander from the Hazara Shiite community on Monday after two days of protests sparked by his arrest.

Abdul Ghani Alipoor’s release was announced by the office of Second Vice President Sarwar Danish, who is also a Hazara.

“Commander Alipoor was released from detention. He is currently at the office of the second VP along with elders and MPs. Alipoor has expressed gratitude to VP Danish for his efforts towards his release,” it said in a statement released with a photo of Alipoor at Mr Danish’s office.

Hundreds of Hazaras protested in the Afghan capital on Sunday and Monday after Alipoor’s arrest, paralysing life in western Kabul. Police increased patrols in Pul-e-Sukhta, Koti Sangi and Dasht-e-Barchi — all predominantly Hazara areas — as schools and local businesses remained shut.

The protests were accompanied by sporadic gunfire. Kabul police said 23 police officers were injured during the protests, while the interior ministry put the number at 43.

The protesters said at least three civilians were killed in police fire. Akhtar Ibrahimi, deputy interior minister, denied this at a press conference on Monday, as well as claims that live ammunition was used.

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