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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 February 2008, 19:43 GMT
Ex-Afghan warlord is 'suspended'
General Dostum campaigning in elections last year
Gen Dostum's post as military chief of staff is largely symbolic
The Afghan attorney general says that the former warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum has been suspended from the government.

Abdul Jabar Sabet said the suspension relates to allegations that Gen Dostum kidnapped and assaulted a rival.

Gen Dostum said that the attorney general cannot dismiss him, and has appealed to President Hamid Karzai to overturn the decision.

In the 1980s Gen Dostum backed the invading forces of the Soviet Union against the Mujahideen rebels.

The general holds the largely symbolic post of chief of staff to the military's commander-in-chief, Mr Karzai.

Tense standoff

Mr Sabet said that he was suspending Gen Dostum for not co-operating with a police investigation into the alleged assault earlier this month.

A spokesman for Mr Sabet said that the general and his men assaulted a former ally and rival, Akbar Bai, and some of his relatives on 3 February.

The incident resulted in dozens of police surrounding Gen Dostum's house in a tense standoff, which the authorities said was only resolved when he agreed to be questioned over the incident.

"We had ordered him to come for investigation. Since he did not turn up, the attorney general has suspended him from his government post until his case is finalised," a spokesman for the attorney general said.

Officials say that Mr Sabet has also ordered two parliamentarians associated with the general to present themselves for questioning over the raid.

Alleged crimes

Gen Dostum denies being involved in any kidnapping, and says that he only heard about his suspension through the media.

Correspondents say he still wields a lot of power in Afghanistan and controls his own private militia.

An ethnic Uzbek from the north of Afghanistan, Gen Dostum gained a reputation as a ruthless militia commander during the Afghan civil war during the 1990s.

He played a prominent role in the destruction of much of the capital Kabul in fighting which left thousands dead.

In 2001, while helping the United States, his militias were accused of suffocating hundreds of Taleban prisoners to death by locking them inside shipping containers.

For these alleged crimes many Afghans and human rights groups say Gen Dostum should be put on trial.

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