A preliminary United Nations probe has concluded Taliban insurgents and local “self proclaimed" Islamic State militants jointly killed at least 36 people in a northern Afghan village earlier this month.
The massacre occurred between August 3 and 5 shortly after insurgents overran the mainly Shi’ite Muslim village of Mirza Olang. The village lies in Sar-e-Pul province and Afghan officials at the time put the death toll at more than 50.
The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) report released Sunday noted the victims included both civilians and pro-government combatants who had been disarmed before they were executed.
UNAMA explained at least half of the killings took place on August 5 when anti-government forces stopped families trying to escape the village, separated women and young children, and killed 18 people.
The killings constitute violations of international law and “may amount to war crimes," it added.
“The perpetrators of these killings and crimes must be held accountable,” demanded UNAMA chief Tadamichi Yamamoto.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, swiftly rejected the UNAMA report as "false claims" and “baseless” allegations against the Islamist insurgency.
Mujahid went on to assert there were no civilians among 28 pro-government fighters killed by Taliban fighters in Mirza Olang. He rejected charges IS militants were also involved in the attack.
The Middle East-based terrorist group claimed it plotted the attack and killed 54 Shi’ite Muslims.
According to UNAMA report, it was unable to find evidence supporting local claims of sexual assaults against women nor could it verify reports many of the victims were beheaded.