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Over 100 former Afghan forces killed or disappeared by Taliban, rights group says

(File: Afghan Taliban fighters and villagers attend a gathering in Alingar district of Laghman Province on the day the militants said they were resuming operations against Afghan government targets. Photo: AFP-NOORULLAH SHIRZADA)

NEW YORK:- Taliban forces in Afghanistan have executed or forcibly disappeared more than 100 former police and intelligence officers in just four provinces since taking over the country on August 15 despite a proclaimed amnesty, a US-based rights group has said.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a report titled “‘No Forgiveness for People Like You,’ Executions and Enforced Disappearances in Afghanistan under the Taliban,” documents the killing or disappearance of 47 former members of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) – military personnel, police, intelligence service members, and militia – who had surrendered to or were apprehended by Taliban forces between August 15 and October 31. The rights group gathered credible information on more than 100 killings from Ghazni, Helmand, Kandahar, and Kunduz provinces alone.

“The Taliban leadership’s promised amnesty has not stopped local commanders from summarily executing or disappearing former Afghan security force members,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The burden is on the Taliban to prevent further killings, hold those responsible to account, and compensate the victims’ families.”

The HRW interviewed 40 people in-person in the four provinces and another 27 by telephone, namely witnesses, relatives and friends of victims, former government officials, journalists, healthcare workers, and Taliban members. A Taliban commander said that those responsible for atrocities “cannot be forgiven.”

The Taliban leadership has directed members of surrendering security force units to register to receive a letter guaranteeing their safety, HRW said. However, Taliban forces have used these screenings to detain and summarily execute or forcibly disappear people within days after they register, leaving their bodies for their relatives or communities to find.

The Taliban have also carried out abusive search operations, including night raids, to apprehend and, at times, forcibly disappear suspected former officials.

“Taliban night raids are terrifying,” a civil society activist from Helmand province said. “They are conducted on the pretext of disarming ex-security forces who have not surrendered weapons. Those that ‘disappear’ are [victims] of night raids. The family can’t report or confirm. The families can’t even ask where [the person has been taken].”

During searches, the Taliban often threaten and abuse family members to make them reveal the whereabouts of those in hiding. Some of those eventually apprehended have been executed or taken into custody without acknowledgement that they are being held, or information about their location.

The executions and disappearances have generated fear among former government officials and others who might have believed that the Taliban takeover would bring an end to the revenge attacks that had been characteristic of Afghanistan’s long armed conflict, HRW added. (ANI)

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