Protesters in several northern Afghan provinces have staged demonstrations demanding the release of detained militia leader Nizamuddin Qaisari from Tuesday, July 3, through Saturday, July 7. Related protests have been held in Balkh, Faryab, Jowzjan, Samangan, and Sar-e-Pul provinces; multiple people have been killed and wounded during the protests. Notably, on July 7, hundreds of demonstrators obstructed the Kabul-Mazar-e-Sharif highway in Samangan province for several hours. Additional related protests are expected in northern Afghanistan in the coming days, particularly in ethnic Uzbek-dominated areas. A heightened security presence and transportation disruptions are expected near protest sites. Incidents of political violence cannot be ruled out.
Qaisari - the de facto leader of an anti-Taliban militia loyal to exiled Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum - was recently arrested and brought to Kabul after a quarrel with Afghan military officials in Faryab province. He has notably had public disagreements with Afghan officials over a lack of security in Uzbek-dominated Faryab. Qaisari's arrest is reportedly part of a broader government push to assert control over strongmen who have allegedly complicated the fight against Islamist militants in the country.
Individuals in affected areas of northern Afghanistan are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and large public gatherings, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
The security environment in Afghanistan remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas, other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.
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