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14 killed in blast near airport in Afghanistan

Afghan security forces stand near bodies of victims while others help injured people following a suicide attack in Kabul on Sunday. The attacker blew himself up at the entrance of Kabul International Airport. | Noorullah Shirzadanoorullah /AFP/Getty Images

KABUL, Afghanistan — An Afghan interior ministry spokesman said 14 people, including both civilians and military forces, have been killed in the suicide attack near Kabul’s airport shortly after the country’s controversial first vice president landed on his return from abroad.

Vice President Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, the likely the target of the attack, escaped unharmed. Dostum, a former Uzbek warlord, returned home after more than a year of living in Turkey.

The interior ministry spokesman, Najib Danish, added that 50 other people were wounded in the attack. Danish said the explosion took place outside of the airport. It was unclear what had caused it.

** FILE ** Ethnic Uzbek strongman Abdul Rashid Dostum is seen in this April 26, 2002 file picture taken at his home in Shibergan, northern Afghanistan.  A man with explosives hidden beneath his clothes blew himself up near the powerful warlord in northern
** FILE ** Ethnic Uzbek strongman Abdul Rashid Dostum is seen in this April 26, 2002 file picture taken at his home in Shibergan, northern Afghanistan. A man with explosives hidden beneath his clothes blew himself up near the powerful warlord in northern Afghanistan on Thursday Jan.20 2005, wounding more than 20 people but not the apparent target, officials said. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) ORG XMIT: KAB103

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack through its Aamaq News Agency.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani strongly condemned the attack in a statement released by the presidential palace.

Presidential spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri said Dostum had been undergoing medical treatment in Turkey, was now well and would resume work. Dostum left the country in 2017, after the attorney-general’s office opened an investigation into allegations that his followers had tortured and sexually abused a former ally turned political rival.

Dostum had since reportedly been prevented by the government from returning to Afghanistan.

Dostum, accused of war crimes committed after the collapse of the Taliban in 2001, has been criticized by the United States for human rights abuses.