Amnesty says 6 from minority Shiite family killed by Taliban

ISLAMABAD (AP) — A leading international rights group released a harrowing report Friday about six members of an extended minority Shiite family in Afghanistan who were brutally killed by the Taliban earlier this summer. It accused Afghanistan’s new rulers of blatant disregard of human rights and abuse of minorities.

Amnesty International said the slain Hazaras included a 12-year-old child in what the rights group said was a deliberate attack on the ethnic minority. The killings took place in Ghor province on June 26 and represent evidence of how the Taliban have failed to establish an inclusive government since seizing power just over a year ago, Amnesty said.

The Taliban swept into Kabul, the Afghan capital, and captured most of the rest of the country in a blitz in August 2021, as U.S. and NATO troops were in the final weeks of their exit from Afghanistan after 20 years of war. The country’s Western-backed government and military crumbled in the face of the Taliban assault.

According to Amnesty, on the night of June 26, Taliban forces raided the home of Mohamad Muradi, a Hazara and a former security official in Ghor. Muradi had also led a local militia that fought the Taliban in 2020 and 2021.

After the Taliban takeover, Muradi had attempted to escape to Iran but failed and recently returned home to the Lal-wa Sarjangal district in Ghor, where he was in hiding.

Amnesty’s report cited witnesses as saying that the Taliban attack began at night, with rocket-propelled grenades thrown at Muradi’s home that instantly killed his 22-year-old daughter, Taj Gul Muradi. Muradi himself, and two other children, a son and a daughter, 12, were initially wounded. The girl died of her wounds the following day, Amnesty said.

A wounded Muradi surrendered to the Taliban through mediation by local elders, but was dragged out of the house and killed.

Three other men — Muradi’s nephew, Ghulam Haider Mohammadi, and two other relatives, both former anti-Taliban militiamen — who were visiting the family were also killed, Amnesty said.

According to witnesses, the two relatives — Asif Rezayee and Arif Sangaree — were taken by the Taliban and driven away. Their bodies were later found more than a 30 minutes’ drive from Muradi’s home.

Amnesty said its report was based on eight separate interviews, done remotely and with witnesses of the attack, and also on analysis of photos and video footage taken in the aftermath of the killings.

It was not clear from the report what happened to Muradi’s wounded son, other members of his immediate family and other relatives who may have been at the house during the attack.

The London-based watchdog urged the Taliban to investigate the killings and “ensure that those responsible are prosecuted in accordance with international human rights obligations and standards.” It suggested that if Afghanistan’s new rulers cannot provide justice, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court should open a full investigation.

“The Taliban must immediately end this cruel pattern of targeted killings and, as the de facto authorities, ensure the protection of all Afghans,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty’s secretary general.

The international community, wary of the Taliban’s harsh rule when they were last in power in the late 1990s, has withheld official recognition of their new administration. It has also demanded that the Taliban uphold women’s rights, allow girls to go to school beyond sixth grade, and revoke their ban on women’s full access to society and the right to work in all fields.

There are also other demands, such as rights for ethnic minorities and the establishment of an inclusive government — all points on which the Taliban have not responded despite their initial promises to the contrary.

The Taliban were not immediately available to comment on Amnesty’s report.

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