Kabul was brought to a virtual standstill last week after protests broke out in the western parts of the city over the arrest of Abdul Ghani Alipoor, a Hazara militia commander. He was arrested on charges of operating illegal armed groups. Hundreds of members of the Hazara Shia minority thronged the streets of the capital, demanding his release.

Mr. Alipoor was eventually released on Monday evening, but not before armed protesters clashed with the local police, resulting in at least four civilian deaths. According to sources in the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghanistan’s spy agency which made the arrest, Mr. Alipoor’s illegal militias were engaged in blackmailing, extortion and arming criminals in in the central provinces.

Previous attempts to arrest him in Ghor and Maidan Wardak provinces failed and resulted in violent clashes with the local police. “The police in Maidan Wardak were attacked, five policemen captured and their weapons seized when they attempted to stop Alipoor’s illegal activities,” an NDS official said in a statement to the media.

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