The Hizb-e-Islami leader arrived back in Kabul on Thursday after an absence of 20 years. His arrival comes after he signed a peace deal with government last year.
The Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s convoy arrived in Kabul on Thursday morning loaded with dozens of visibly heavily armed men, many of whom were flying the group’s flag, along with the Afghan national flag.
The convoy drove the almost 200 kilometers from Nangarhar to Kabul reportedly transporting Hekmatyar.
It left Nangarhar at around 7:30 in morning and arrived in Kabul through the Pul-e-Charkhi area in the east of the city.
The convoy made its way to Hekmatyar’s residence in Kabul’s Darulaman area at around 12:30pm.
The vehicles in the convoy, many of which were luxury SUVs, were loaded with armed men – many sporting PK machine guns, RPGs, Kalashnikovs and other firearms along with countless rounds of visible ammunition.
Many of these men chanted pro-Hekmatyar slogans, with some calling out: “Long live Hekmatyar” and “Long live Hizb-e-Islami leader”.
Dozens of Kabul residents meanwhile gathered along the route in the city to watch Hekmatyar’s convoy driving through the city, a city he left and last saw in ruins during the civil war almost two decades ago.
But some residents took to social media on Thursday and complained about the closure of key roads in Kabul ahead of and during his arrival.
Hekmatyar first appeared among his supporters in Laghman province last weekend where he held his first public speech in 20 years.
The Hizb-e-Islami leader returned to Kabul on Thursday ahead of a meeting and ceremony with President Ashraf Ghani.
He is also expected to address a mass rally on Friday at the Ghazi Stadium in Kabul.