The Taliban killed at least 13 members of the Hazara ethnic group, including a 17-year-old girl, in the central province of Daykundi shortly after they took power in Afghanistan, according to a new report by Amnesty International.
On August 30, a convoy of 300 Taliban fighters entered the Khidr district and killed at least 11 former members of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), nine of whom were taken to a nearby river basin, where they were executed shortly after surrendered, the rights group said in its report published Tuesday.
A teenager, identified as Masuma, was shot dead after the Taliban targeted Afghan forces trying to flee the area. Another civilian, Fayaz, newly married in his 20s, was also among those killed by the crossfire.
The ANSF members killed were aged 26 to 46, Amnesty said. All the victims were persecuted during the first period of the ruling Taliban between 1996 and 2001.
This is Hazara’s second murder documented by Amnesty. At least nine men in Hazara were killed by Taliban fighters in Ghazni province in July before the group took power, Amnesty reported on August 19.
By September 1, the Taliban had denied the killings.
Raihana Azad, a former member of parliament, also verified the Amnesty report, saying the August 30 events were “inhumane mass killings” committed by the Taliban.
She said what happened in Khidr was in direct violation of the Taliban’s claims of a general nationwide amnesty for former security forces and government employees.
“These executions are further evidence that the Taliban are committing the same horrific abuses they were known for during their previous rule in Afghanistan,” said Agnes Callamard, secretary general of Amnesty International.
During their five-year rule in the 1990s, the Taliban were accused of massacring hundreds of thousands in Balkh and Bamiyan provinces.
Zaman Sultani, a South Asian researcher at Amnesty International, said the Daykundi killings follow a clear pattern from the Taliban.
Azad, a former lawmaker, said the Taliban abuses in Daykundi did not end with the killings.
She said that since the Taliban invaded the province on August 14, a day before former President Ashraf Ghani left the country, thousands of families have been forced to flee their homes in the Gizab and Pato areas of the mountainous province.
A list compiled by residents shows that up to 20,000 families were forcibly relocated to at least 10 different villages over the past month.
“Daykundi residents said that when the Taliban came to their homes, the fighters claimed that the families had illegally occupied the land.”
Daykundi is considered one of the poorest and least developed provinces in Afghanistan. Most men in the province go to other cities or Iran and Pakistan as teenagers to work as day laborers or in mines.
In July, Human Rights Watch released a report from the northern province of Kunduz claiming the Taliban forced at least 400 families to flee their homes.
“The forced relocation of civilians is illegal. Retaliatory attacks are a form of collective punishment and are also prohibited, “said Patricia Gossman, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
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