Global Policy Forum

Taliban Accused of Killing Civilians


By Rory McCarthy

January 25, 2001

Amnesty International accused the forces of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan yesterday of executing up to 300 civilians, some as young as 13, after capturing several villages in central part of the country earlier this month.

The United Nations also says there has been extensive killing of people in the area, where the fighting continues.

A Taliban commander is alleged to have ordered his troops to kill all the men in Yakaolang they thought were opposed to them. The Taliban government has denied being involved in the deaths.

The incident occured after Yakaolang, which lies 120 miles west of Kabul in Bamiyan province, was retaken by the Taliban from the forces of Hezb-e Wahdat, part of the alliance fighting Taliban rule.

Yakaolang is populated by the Hazara people, who are Shia Muslims. The Taliban, who are Sunni Muslims from the main Afghan people, the Pashtun, have repeatedly attacked the Hazara.

Amnesty called for an international body to investigate a number massacres in which thousands have died since the Taliban seized the capital, Kabul, in September 1996 and started trying to capture the pockets of the country still outside their control.

The UN has called on the Taliban to control their commanders. The secretary general, Kofi Annan, said those killed included Afghan humanitarian workers. A local UN man in the area is missing.

"There have been numerous credible reports of widespread summary executions of Hazara civilians by the Taliban, who apparently accused the local population of supporting the Hezb-e Wahdat," Mr Annan said.

In May 1999 Taliban soldiers killed scores of Hazara civilians after capturing Yakaolang. Houses were burned and men and boys arrested. Taliban forces, too, have been killed en masse. In late 1997 Abdul Malik, a leading Uzbek commander from the opposition forces, took 2,000 of them prisoner and tortured and killed them in the desert outside Mazar-e Sharif.

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