ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF AFGHANISTAN: Harrowing accounts emerge of the Taliban’s reign of terror in Kunduz

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7 Oct 2015
[International Secretariat]
Topic: Regional conflict

Mass murder, gang rapes and house-to-house searches by Taliban death squads are just some of the harrowing civilian testimonies emerging from Kunduz as Afghan forces today claimed to have regained control of key areas of the northern city, Amnesty International said.

The organization has spoken to numerous people, the majority of them women, who have fled Kunduz since Monday, when the Taliban launched a sudden assault on the city.

The harrowing accounts we’ve received paint a picture of a reign of terror must prompt the Afghan authorities to do more now to protect civilians.

Protecting civilians from further onslaught and serious abuses at the hands of the Taliban is of the utmost importance.

“Many humanitarian agencies have bravely continued their work in and around Kunduz over the past days. They must be granted access to carry out their life-saving work. With thousands forced from their homes, it is also crucial that all parties agree to a humanitarian corridor that allows civilians to leave the city safely.”

Taliban ‘hit list’

One woman who provides assistance to victims of domestic violence told Amnesty International that Taliban fighters were using a “hit list” to track down their targets. It allegedly includes the names and photos of activists, journalists and civil servants based in Kunduz.

When the Taliban took control of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and other government and NGO offices on Monday, they gained access to reams of information about NGO staff.

Since then, Taliban fighters have allegedly been using young boys to help them to conduct house-to-house searches to locate and abduct their targets, including women.

Another woman human rights defender had her home and office burned and looted by Taliban on Tuesday night. Taliban fighters kept calling her to ask about the whereabouts of the women whom she had been helping.

She and several other women managed to receive assistance for themselves and their children to flee to safety.

Mass murder and rape

According to local activists, Taliban fighters also raped female relatives and killed family members. The Taliban also burnt down the families’ houses and looted their belongings.

The Taliban released all the male prisoners held in Kunduz and gave them arms to fight against government forces. Female prisoners were raped and beaten, then the Taliban abducted some and released others. 

An eyewitness told Amnesty International that a civilian woman in his neighbourhood had been shot amid fighting between Taliban and the Afghan security forces. Taliban fighters responded to her screams of pain by entering her house and shooting her point blank in the head, forcing her husband to watch her die.

Fear of revenge attacks

As Afghan government forces regain control of Kunduz, Amnesty International calls on them not to retaliate against any captured or injured members of the Taliban. Any Taliban fighters suspected of serious violations of human rights or international humanitarian law must be investigated and prosecuted in fair trial.

Breaking the cycle of violence and returning to the rule of law means ensuring that Afghan troops and authorities do not mete out revenge on any prisoners, which would amount to a war crime.

1 October 2015

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