The Afghan government has pardoned one of the country’s most notorious warlords for past offences including terrorist attacks and alleged war crimes as part of a peace deal with his militant group, Hezb-i-Islami.

The agreement, signed on Thursday after months of negotiations, paves the way for a return to public and possibly political life for Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who holds an almost unparalleled record of human rights abuses.

These include indiscriminate shelling of civilians, targeted assassinations of intellectuals and disappearances of political opponents. Hekmatyar’s followers are accused of throwing acid at women and of running an underground torture prison in Pakistan.

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