Afghan intelligence agency says it foiled attempt to kill vice-president

Abdul Rashid Dostum, an Uzbek leader and a vice-presidential candidate, talks with his supporters at the Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC) in Kabul October 6, 2013. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani (Reuters)

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan's intelligence agency said on Saturday it had foiled an attempt to assassinate Vice-President Abdul Rashid Dostum in the northerly Jawzjan province. The assassination was to have been carried out by a suicide bomber who had hidden a bomb on the back of his horse as he attended a game of buzkashi, a national sport. "The suicide bomber ... planned to detonate it during a buzkashi match," the statement by the spy agency said. The powerful Uzbek leader is known as a fan of the sport, in which players on horseback try to drag the carcass of a calf or goat into a goal. During last year's election campaign, Dostum was photographed watching games from a throne-like sofa placed on the back of a pick-up truck, in a show of his wealth and influence. This week, Dostum's office issued a statement denying that he felt marginalized by other members of the national unity government, as the New York Times had reported. The newspaper said the former warlord had been close to tears after one particularly difficult meeting. The statement said this did not fit Dostum's personality and nature. (Reporting by Jessica Donati and Mirwais Harooni; Editing by Kevin Liffey)