First Vice President Amrullah Saleh on Monday said those who are behind the downing of army helicopter in Behsud district of Maidan Wardak "will be punished," calling the incident an “evident crime.”
The incident happened in Behsud district last week. According to Defense Ministry, there is adequate evidence that shows the helicopter was downed by militia belonged to a local commander, Alipoor, known as Commander Shamshir.
The ministry said the helicopter was in Behsud to transfer members of the police special forces to Kabul who were killed and wounded in clashes. The helicopter was targeted shortly after it took off from a base in Behsud after midnight on Thursday.
Alipoor has admitted that his men have conducted the attack. The Defense Ministry has pledged to take revenge against Alipoor's militia over the incident.
“No military operation was planned against anybody in Behsud,” Saleh wrote in a Facebook post, adding that it will be a mistake to make the incident an ethnic nature.
Saleh also called the incident “mysterious.”
Former vice president and head of the Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan Mohammad Karim Khalili said Sunday that civilians have been sacrificed in Behsud and that any provocation will have unpleasant consequences.
“Recent attempts by security forces and operations among people’s houses is not a solution and it will prolong problems and social and political crises,” Khalili said in a social media post.
President Ashraf Ghani’s senior adviser Mohammad Mohaqiq called on the Afghan government to not be hasty in using force in this issue.
“Operations against defenseless people’s houses will have unpleasant consequences and will benefit no one,” Mohaqiq said in a social media post. “I call on the government and relevant officials to avoid haste in the use of the military, especially during the new year days in which people are happy. Efforts should be made to solve the issue peacefully.”
But President Ghani has insisted on retaliating for the attack after he talked on the phone to the families of the victims of the downed helicopter.
“Revenge will be taken because they were attacked while they were defending the country,” Ghani said on Saturday.
Some lawmakers said that they are not in favor of military action against Alipoor, who has admitted having downed the helicopter. The MPs said they seek a peaceful solution to the issue.
Who is Alipoor?
Who is Abdul Ghani Alipoor--also known as Commander Shamshir--and why has he established an illegal armed group in his province? Where did the rift between his militia and government forces begin?
Alipoor is a commander in Behsud district of Maidan Wardak province, whose armed men--according to the Defense Ministry--shot down a government security forces helicopter around midnight on Thursday.
In a recent interview with local media outlets, Alipoor said that he is a commander of the Hizb-e-Wahdat-e-Islami Afghanistan (the Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan) faction of Abdul Ali Mazari; however, in 2004, when the government started the disarmament process, he handed over his weapons to the government and started working as a driver on the Kabul-Behsud route.
He said that after the attack of Kochis on people’s houses in Behsud district and following the killing of people by the Taliban in 2014, he established a resistance group in Behsud, but reportedly the activities of “Commander Shamshir” have expanded to Ghor, Daikundi, Ghazni, Uruzgan, Sar-e-Pul and Bamiyan province.
Alipoor has not provided exact figures on the number of men in his militia, but one of his fighters said that he has at least 2,000 armed men in Behsud, some of whom have even sold all their belongings to buy a gun and join the commander.
On December 5, 2018, the National Directorate of Security, the country’s intelligence agency, arrested Alipoor on charges of having illegal armed men and performing illegal activities such as extortion and attacking security force members. His arrest was followed by five days of violent protest by his supporters, and, ultimately, he was released with the mediation of Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danesh, which resulted in an agreement. He returned to Behsud after his release.
In another incident of fighting between special forces and Alipoor’s militia in February, at least 12 people were killed and 25 more were wounded.