Afghanistan: Taliban threaten ‘revenge killings’

(New York, March 22, 2022) – Taliban authorities in Afghanistan’s Helmand province have threatened to retaliate against activists and former officials in response to recent killings of Taliban commanders, Human Rights Watch said in a statement today.

The Taliban in Helmand province stepped up their surveillance and warned they would retaliate if further attacks were launched against Taliban leaders. International law, however, prohibits retaliatory attacks, that is, unlawful attacks carried out as a measure of coercion, against civilians.

Taliban leaders in Helmand province should not respond to attacks with threats of unlawful punishment said Patricia Gossman, deputy director for Asia at Human Rights Watch. “ The Taliban authorities must prevent their fighters from launching retaliatory attacks and ensure that all crimes are governed by legal procedures. »

A local Taliban police officer in Gereshk, Helmand province, warned residents that Taliban authorities at the district level are calling for reprisals, including against former officials. Residents reported increased nighttime patrols and searches, accompanied by warnings from local Taliban officials of mass arrests if anti-Taliban attacks continue. Afghan activists told Human Rights Watch that the Taliban in Helmand province have stepped up surveillance of some people and groups they accuse of against the Islamic Emirate “.

These threats came after a series of attacks in which members of the Taliban were kidnapped or killed. Taliban commander Haji Amanullah, 45, has been missing since February 14, 2022, when gunmen attacked him near his home in Navai Bazar, Gereshk district, and took him away. Three days later, a letter was posted on his door claiming that Amanullah was guilty of murder. innocent and poor people and government officials, and for making many mothers cry… now her own mother is crying. We killed him. His body has not been found.

That same week, two local Taliban commanders were found shot dead in the Baba Ji area. In mid-March, the bullet-riddled corpse of a Taliban commander from Gereshk was discovered by his family behind his home. No group has claimed responsibility for these attacks.

A spokesman for a local mosque said that Taliban representatives said at the meeting that they “ was very patient, but that in the future some people working against [nous] will be caught and punished “. At the same meeting, the Taliban fighter said that the leaders warned their members not to retaliate yet, but to be vigilant. He added: “ The attention of the international community is on us right now ” as well as “ Mullah Yakub [ministre de la Défense taliban] and other leaders were ordered to wait.… Just watch those who act against [nous]especially those civil servants and civil society activists who preach against [talibans]. »

The Taliban have already retaliated against former officials and executed without due process or enforced disappearance former members of the security forces and others they accuse of being their enemies. The statements heighten fears that Taliban fighters in the province may be using the recent attacks as an excuse to abuse perceived critics, including journalists and activists.

Taliban leaders deny retaliatory killings, but they have been doing so for a long time and have a responsibility to ensure that their fighters do not commit such killings. Patricia Gossman said. “ Foreign delegations meeting with the Taliban should urge them to prevent their forces from carrying out more killings. »

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