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Afghan Authorities Foil Attempt To Kill Vice President

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, second right, stands with, from left, Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum, Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Muhammad Mohaqiq, the deputy to Abdullah Abdullah, in 2014.

Afghanistan's security forces say they have foiled an attempt to assassinate First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum in the northern province of Jawzjan.

The Afghan intelligence agency said they arrested a man who had hidden a bomb on the back of his horse as he attended a buzkashi match on March 21, as the country marked Norouz, the Persian New Year.

The statement said the would-be suicide bomber planned to detonate the bomb during the match.

General Dostrum's spokesman Sultan Faizy identified the man arrested as 20-year-old Gul Ahmad.

The ethnic Uzbek former warlord's office issued a statement earlier this week denying reports that he felt marginalized by other members of the national unity government.

Meanwhile, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has said his country faces a "difficult" spring in terms of security.

Speaking at a press conference in Kabul on March 21 ahead of a four-day visit to the United States, Ghani acknowledged the Islamic State (IS) extremist group was gaining influence in Afghanistan.

The group’s "characteristic is that it is man-eating,” he said. “It swallows its competitors.”

The pace of the U.S. military exit from Afghanistan will be among topics discussed next week in meetings between U.S. President Barack Obama, his Afghan counterpart and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

Current plans call for a U.S. drawdown to 5,500 troops by the end of 2015, but the United States has suggested it might keep more troops in Afghanistan next year.

Based on reporting by Reuters, Khaama Press, and AP