Afghanistan: evidence shows Taliban is targeting civilians in last holdout province

·2-min read
Afghanistan: evidence shows Taliban is targeting civilians in last holdout province

The Taliban has reportedly killed at least 20 civilians in Afghanistan’s Panjshir valley, the only province still claiming to hold out against the Islamist militant group since it seized power in Kabul.

While the Taliban has denied claims that it is targeting civilians, reports of the Taliban’s extrajudicial killing and human rights abuses continue to emerge.

One of the alleged victims was a shopkeeper in the region, the BBC reported, citing sources. Taliban fighters arrested him after he was accused of selling SIM cards to resistance fighters. Days later, his body was found near his home with signs of torture.

According to a report by the Washington Post, the Talibs have imposed a blockade in Panjshir province, denying food to residents and forcing many to flee. “My people pressed me to leave the area,” a man told the Post on the condition of anonymity, saying that his family feared the group would kill him.

The reports follow claims by a senior diplomat in the previous government who voiced concerns over the human rights situation in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover.

Ambassador Nasir Ahmad Andisha called for action before the UN human rights council in Geneva, demanding the establishment of a fact-finding committee to monitor violations of human rights by the Talibs.

In August, Amnesty International issued a report saying that The Taliban “massacred” and brutally tortured several members of the Hazara minority in Mundarakht, Malistan Afghan district.

Evidence of the killings in Panjashir emerged immediately after UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Monday her office had received credible allegations of reprisal killings by the Taliban of former Afghan security forces, former officials and their family members.

Panjshir, located about 125 km northeast of Kabul in the Hindu-Kush mountain range, has long remained a focal point of resistance in Afghanistan, having previously been the home for battles against Soviet forces in the 1980s.

Last week, the Taliban claimed that its fighters had gained control of the valley and that Afghanistan Resistance Front leader Ahmad Massoud had fled the country. But the resistance group has denied this claim.

Qassem Mohammadi, a member of the resistance group and reportedly close to Massoud, told Iran’s FARS News Agency: “In recent days, the Taliban has entered Panjshir, and now 70 per cent of the main streets and passages are under their control, but the valley of Panjshir is still under the complete control of the popular forces.”

He added that Massoud “is in a safe place and the rumours that he has left Afghanistan and gone to Turkey or another country are not true, and he is in contact with Panjshir Valley”.

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