| 29 February 2024, Thursday |

Nearly 400 civilians killed in Afghanistan since Taliban takeover, UN says

A U.N. study indicates that almost 400 people have been murdered in assaults in Afghanistan since the Taliban took power, with more than 80 percent of them slain by a group connected with the Islamic State, highlighting the extent of the conflict confronting the new authorities.

It is the first major human rights report issued since the Taliban overthrew the old US-backed government in August, raising fears in the West about a broader erosion of rights for women, journalists, and others.

It covers the period from August 2021 until the end of February and claims that 397 civilians were slain, the majority of them were killed in a series of strikes carried out by the Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) organization.

More than 50 people with suspected ties to the extreme militant group had been killed in the same period, it said, with some tortured and beheaded and cast by the roadside.

“The human rights situation for many Afghans is of profound concern,” said Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a speech introducing the report to the top rights body in Geneva.

ISIS-K, which first appeared in eastern Afghanistan in late 2014, is thought to have spread in the wake of the Taliban takeover and is blamed for several suicide attacks in recent months, including one at Kabul airport last August.

In the same speech, Bachelet said that Taliban rulers had curtailed women’s rights and freedoms. She called for women to be allowed to “fully participate” in public life.

Bachelet also referred to “a number of disturbing cases of enforced disappearances” of activists and protesters and expressed concern about restrictions on freedom of expression.

“I remain concerned by the progressive erosion of civic space,” she said.

Under their previous rule from 1996 to 2001, the hardline Islamist Taliban barred women and girls from education. They say they have since changed.

The Geneva-based Rights Council is set to appoint a special rapporteur on Afghanistan to probe alleged violations by Taliban and others at the end of its current month-long session.

U.S. ambassador Sheba Crocker told the Council on Monday that this would be an “important mechanism for documenting abuses” and urged the Taliban to cooperate with its team.

  • Reuters