Taliban exact revenge against anti-Taliban groups, kills 70 Afghan security forces, HRW says

Human Rights Watch released a shocking report on Thursday alleging that the Taliban executed more than 70 Afghan security forces, who had surrendered to their militants, and left the bodies on the streets. The attack, carried out by a team of seven Taliban militants on Thursday, occurred in north-western Afghanistan’s Jawzjan province.

Hundreds of Taliban members have gathered in the area to celebrate the death of a senior commander the previous day, and to mark the end of the Afghan government’s three-day Eid al-Adha holiday, the report claims. According to the human rights organization, Taliban gunmen pulled eight members of the provincial intelligence agency and nine soldiers who had been posted at a local town, surrounded them in the courtyard of a residence and shot them dead execution-style. One guard managed to beat a suicide attacker before he blew himself up, and was caught by fleeing gunmen. Others managed to escape, and two bodyguards were able to flee along with a third, who was in the house. It is unknown whether the men were used as human shields or whether they had been captured. The Taliban posted photographs of the shooting and confirmed their account of the attack to The Associated Press.

The HRW report, which relied on interviews with witnesses and survivors, noted that this kind of execution was not uncommon in Afghanistan.

“This Taliban massacre of Afghan security forces has devastating consequences for the credibility of a peace process and for government claims of the presence of sufficient forces to safeguard Afghan civilians,” Rachel Reid, HRW’s Afghanistan researcher, said in a statement. “Afghan security forces are the tip of the iceberg — ordinary Afghans face a climate of fear as warring parties increasingly target them for retaliation for cooperating with the government.”

According to data compiled by HRW, at least 1,115 members of the Afghan security forces died in the first eight months of 2018. The data also showed that more than 7,800 security force members were injured in the same period. About 4,800 members of the Afghan National Police were killed and 7,400 were injured in the same period. While HRW says that these figures need to be independently verified, this is at least the highest figure it has ever reported in its Afghanistan report.

And this is how the Taliban reacted to accusations of the massacre. From Sputnik:

The Taliban statement accused the people of Jawzjan of “criminal deeds” for exaggerating the death toll and said those who know the incident have said that most of the victims were a media crew that had captured the Taliban shooting their comrades. “The government is using the martyrdom of the senior Mujahid Abu Humayun to trick the enemies and divert the attention of public,” the Taliban said in a statement. “He [Faqir Ahmad Mutalib] did not shoot the enemy from the courtyard of the house and it is not known whether the incident in the courtyard was staged or not.”

In other words, the Taliban did not take responsibility for the massacre. But the statement also accused Mutalib of photographing their group as they shot their comrades.

HRW’s new report comes in the context of increasing Taliban violence in recent weeks. On Wednesday, a Taliban suicide bomber attacked the United Nations compound in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, killing nine people and wounding 23, including the U.N. assistant secretary-general for human rights. The attack is being investigated by the Taliban, but Taliban spokesmen claimed responsibility for the bombing, which was in line with the Taliban’s increasing focus on the security sector.

Leave a Comment