By SAMYA KULLAB Associated Press
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Taliban forces illegally killed 13 Hazara ethnic groups, most of them Afghan soldiers who surrendered to the insurgents, a leading human rights group said on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Taliban leaders have met with Iranian officials in Kabul in a bid to bolster trade ties essential to filling cash-strapped coffers as the country is on the brink of economic collapse. The UK has also sent two envoys to Afghanistan to meet with senior Taliban officials, the prime minister’s spokesperson said.
The killings took place on August 30 in the village of Kahor in Daykundi province in central Afghanistan, according to an Amnesty International investigation. Eleven of the victims were members of the Afghan National Security Forces and two were civilians, including a 17-year-old girl.
The reported killings took place around two weeks after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in a blitz, culminating with their takeover of Kabul. At the time, Taliban leaders sought to reassure Afghans that they had changed from their former domination of the country in the late 1990s.
The Taliban have met with an Iranian delegation to regulate trade between the countries, Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi said on Tuesday. They agreed to increase trading hours at the Islam Qala border post from eight hours a day to 24 hours, better regulate fare collection and improve road works. Customs are an essential source of domestic revenue for the country.
The aid-dependent country is grappling with a liquidity crunch as assets remain frozen in the United States and disbursements from international organizations that once accounted for 75% of state spending have been suspended.
Meanwhile, in Kabul, the Taliban announced on Tuesday that it had arrested 11 members of the Islamic State group, a bitter rival and enemy of the insurgents. The Islamic State group’s subsidiary – based in the eastern province of Nangarhar – has claimed responsibility for a series of recent attacks targeting Taliban forces in eastern Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi posted on Twitter that the raid took place on Sunday evening in the Fifth Police District in the Afghan capital. He did not provide any further details. The raid came just hours after a bombardment targeted the Eid Gah mosque in Kabul, killing at least five people.
IS claimed responsibility for the attack on the mosque on Monday evening, claiming in an article published on its media branch, the Aamaq News Agency, that one of their suicide bombers targeted Taliban figures following a police service. mourning.
Sunday’s bombing was the deadliest attack in Kabul since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan with the chaotic departure of the last US troops on August 31. IS also claimed responsibility for the horrific August 26 attack that killed more than 169 Afghans and 13 US servicemen outside Kabul airport, where thousands were trying to reach the airport to escape. to the Taliban regime.
The world watched whether the Taliban would keep their initial promises of tolerance and inclusion towards women and ethnic minorities, including the Hazara Shiites. However, the Taliban’s actions so far, such as renewing restrictions on women and appointing an all-male government, have been greeted with dismay by the international community.
Protests against the Taliban’s policies towards women continued, with a demonstration Tuesday at a private school in Kabul by teachers and students holding up signs saying “Education is a right”. The protest was held indoors to avoid backlash from the Taliban, who recently banned protests held without government permission.
The UN children’s agency continued to sound the alarm, saying a humanitarian crisis is imminent and warning that half of Afghan children under 5 are expected to suffer from severe malnutrition amid hunger. took hold against a backdrop of severe food shortages.
“There are millions of people who are going to starve and winter is coming, COVID is raging and the whole social system has collapsed,” said Omar Adbi, deputy executive director of UNICEF programs, during a visit to a children’s hospital in Kabul.
At the hospital, a woman named Nargis sat with her 3-year-old child who was severely malnourished. She came from Kunar province in northeastern Afghanistan, where fighting between the Taliban and the Islamic State group deprived communities of access to basic needs, including food. Nargis declined to give his full name.
Amnesty General Secretary Agnes Callamard, referring to the Daykundi killings, said that “these cold-blooded executions (of the Hazaras) are further proof that the Taliban are committing the same horrific abuses for which they were notorious during the their previous rule over Afghanistan “.
The Hazaras make up about 9% of Afghanistan’s 36 million people. They are often targeted because they are Shia Muslims in a predominantly Sunni country.
Taliban spokesmen Zabihullah Mujahid and Karimi did not respond to calls from The Associated Press for comment.
The human rights group said Sadiqullah Abed, the Taliban-appointed police chief for Daykundi, denied any killings took place and only said that a member of the Taliban was injured during of an attack in the province.
The Taliban took control of Daykundi province on August 14, according to the Amnesty report, and around 34 former soldiers sought refuge in Khidir district. The soldiers, who had military equipment and government weapons with them, agreed to surrender to the Taliban.
Mohammad Azim Sedaqat, who led the group’s surrender, arranged to withdraw the weapons in the presence of Taliban operatives.
On August 30, around 300 Taliban fighters arrived in a convoy near the village of Dahani Qul, where members of the security forces were staying, some with family members, according to the Amnesty report. As security forces tried to leave the area with their families, Taliban fighters caught up with them and opened fire on the crowd, killing a 17-year-old girl named Masuma. A soldier retaliated, killing one Taliban fighter and injuring another.
The Taliban continued to shoot as families fled, killing two soldiers, according to the report. After nine security forces surrendered, the Taliban took them to a nearby river basin and killed them, according to the rights group.
Amnesty said it checked the photographs and video evidence taken following the killings.
Bryan reported from Cairo. Associated Press editors Rahim Faiez in Istanbul and Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report.