Conflicts & War

Amnesty calls for probe into Afghan war crimes, civilian deaths

Kabul, Dec 15 (EFE).- Rights watchdog Amnesty International Wednesday called for a probe into the alleged war crimes by the Taliban and civilian killings by the United States military and Afghan security before the fall of the Afghanistan government on Aug.5 this year.

In its latest report documenting the “extensive civilian suffering” before the government of President Ashraf Ghani collapsed, Amnesty said the Taliban committed torture, extrajudicial executions, and killings during the final stages of the conflict in Afghanistan.

The report also records civilian casualties in ground and air operations by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) and US military forces.

“The months before the government collapse in Kabul were marked by repeated war crimes and relentless bloodshed committed by the Taliban, as well as deaths caused by Afghan and US forces,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary-General.

“Our new evidence shows that, far from the seamless transition of power that the Taliban claimed happened, the people of Afghanistan have once again paid with their lives.”

Callamard said the militia turned homes, hospitals, schools, and shops into crime scenes as people were repeatedly killed and injured.

She said the people of Afghanistan had suffered for too long, and victims needed access to justice and reparations.

“The International Criminal Court must reverse its misguided decision to de-prioritize investigations into US and Afghan military operations, and instead follow the evidence on all possible war crimes, no matter where it leads.”

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported that 1,659 civilians were killed and another 3,524 injured in the first six months of 2021, an increase of 47 percent from the prior year.

The full scale of the killings nationwide remains unknown, as the Taliban cut mobile phone service, or severely restricted internet access, in many rural areas, said the Amnesty report.

The rights group said that as the Taliban seized control of districts across Afghanistan in July and August 2021, members of the Islamist militia tortured and killed ethnic and religious minorities, former Afghan soldiers, and those perceived as government sympathizers in reprisal attacks.

On Sep.6, 2021, Taliban forces attacked Bazarak town in Panjshir province.

After a brief battle, approximately 20 men were captured by Taliban fighters and detained for two days, at times jailed in a pigeon coop.

They were tortured, denied food, water, and medical assistance, and repeatedly threatened with execution, said the Amnesty report.

It noted that a Taliban attack on the nearby village of Urmaz, where they conducted door-to-door searches to identify people suspected of working for the former government.

The fighters extra-judicially executed at least six civilian men within 24 hours, mainly by gunshots to the head, chest, or heart.

“Such killings constitute war crimes. Eyewitnesses said that while some of the men had previously served in the ANSDF, none were in government security forces or taking part in hostilities in any way at the time of execution.”

The report documents four airstrikes – three most likely carried out by US forces, and one by the Afghan Air Force – in recent years.

The strikes killed 28 civilians, including 15 men and eight children.

“The strikes generally resulted in civilian deaths because the US dropped explosive weapons in densely populated areas,” the nonprofit reported.

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