The international rights advocacy group Amnesty International has accused Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban of unlawfully killing 13 members of the ethnic Hazara minority community on August 30, two weeks after the Islamist group seized control of the war-ravaged country.
Eleven surrendering troops from the ousted Afghan government and two civilians, including a 17-year-old girl, were among the victims, the watchdog said in a new report released Tuesday.
The extrajudicial executions happened in Kahor village of the Khidir district in central Daykundi province, the report said, citing eyewitness testimony.
Amnesty has verified photographs and video evidence taken in the aftermath of the killings, demanding these cruel acts of revenge must immediately be ceased by the Taliban.
“These cold-blooded executions are further proof that the Taliban are committing the same horrific abuses they were notorious for during their previous rule of Afghanistan,” Amnesty International’s Secretary-General Agnes Callamard said in the report.
VOA has contacted the Taliban for their reaction in response to Amnesty’s findings but could not get a response immediately.
Hazaras, Shi'ite Muslims, account for 9% of Afghanistan’s 36 million population, making them a target in a Sunni-majority country.
The Taliban Islamist group is often accused of persecuting ethnic and religious minorities during the time it was previously in control of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. Women were also barred from public life and work while girls were prevented from receiving an education.
But since returning to power in mid-August, the radical group has assured the international community the rights of all Afghans will be protected, announcing a blanket amnesty for all those who served in the Western-backed ousted government.
“The Taliban say they are not targeting former employees of the previous government, but these killings contradict such claims,” lamented Amnesty in its report.
The international community has ignored Taliban calls for granting legitimacy to their rule, saying they are waiting to see if the group lives up to its commitments of protecting human rights, especially the rights of women, and run the country through an inclusive political government.
Meanwhile, the U.N. International Children’s Emergency Fund and the World Health Organization expressed concern Tuesday about the dire state of malnutrition and food insecurity sweeping across Afghanistan.
With winter fast approaching, it is now a race against time to assist Afghan families lacking access to clean drinking water and health and nutrition services, the relief agencies said in a news release.
“Fourteen million people in Afghanistan are facing acute food insecurity, and an estimated 3.2 million children under the age of five expected to suffer from acute malnutrition by the end of the year,” the U.N. statement warned. “At least one million of these children are at risk of dying due to severe acute malnutrition without immediate treatment.”