Gunfight erupts at Jamiat party congress

KABUL (Tolo News): Gunfire interrupted a meeting of Jamiat-e-Islami members in Kabul who belong to the faction led by Atta Mohammad Noor, the former governor of Balkh province, on Thursday. The fighting started at 10:20 am local time while the participants of the meeting were gathering, and continued till around 1:00pm, according to a TOLOnews reporter.

“Six people came to the yard outside the hotel and started shooting,” eyewitnesses said, adding that “one person was wounded in the shooting.” Some members of the Jamiat-e-Islami’s faction of Noor said that “the people were against holding the gathering under the leadership of Mr. Noor.”

“The gunmen wanted to interrupt the gathering. Four people have been arrested and two others will be arrested soon,” said Alam Khan Azadi, an MP from Balkh and one of the participants of the gathering. The shooting continued for hours, and eventually the special forces arrived at the scene to control the situation, according to the eyewitnesses.

“Three people have been killed and four others were wounded in the gunfight,” according to sources. Noor, Mohammad Ismail Khan, a former mujahideen leader and former Herat governor, and the former vice president Mohammad Younus Qanooni–as well as several other political leaders–attended the congress. The rift between Salahuddin Rabbani, who is the acting head of Jamiat, and Noor, the CEO of the party, developed eight months ago over the issue of holding a congress.

After the rift between Rabbani and Noor, the party has split, with both factions operating independently. Rabbani was made the acting leader of the party after his father and former president Burhanuddin Rabbani’s death in an explosion at the senior Rabbani’s house in Kabul in 2011. On Sunday night, four key leaders from Jamiat-e-Islami who broke into two factions eight months ago held a session behind closed doors to discuss their differences and the country’s peace process, a member of the party said.

The unity of the party and the role of the party in the peace talks were part of the discussions in the meeting attended by Rabbani, Noor, Qanooni and Ahmad Zia Massoud, according to Jamiat members who attended the meeting. The leaders determined that Jamiat would be deprived of a key role in the country’s political developments if it failed to solve its differences, the source said.