KUNDUZ -- Taliban fighters killed 11 civilians, including women and children, and wounded 18 others in two separate attacks in Baghlan Province in response to losses inflicted by local forces.
"The Taliban, responding to the killing of some of their key figures by members of the local uprising force, raided the residence of Abdul Ghayor, a people's uprising force commander, in Tali village of Nahrin District at 11pm on September 27," said Gul Agha Akbari, the district governor of Nahrin.
This attack left six people dead, including women and a child, with at least six others wounded, he said.
"One night later on September 28, the Taliban again attacked Commander Ghayor's house and targeted people who had come to offer their prayers and condolences," said Akbari.
Five people including two commanders of the local forces lost their lives in the fighting, while three attackers were killed, he added. Another 12 civilians sustained injuries. A six-month-old child was among the wounded, losing one of his legs in the attack.
The Taliban also took seven people captive.
Akbari said that Tali village is now under the insurgents' control following the deadly attacks, which were conducted by the Taliban's so-called Red Unit.
Security forces to act
The Taliban were avenging losses suffered in operations led by Ghaynor and the local uprising force a month earlier, Akbari said. Ghayor and his fighters killed six key Taliban members, including their intelligence chief for the area of Qari Rashi, in a skirmish in August.
Baghlan security officials confirmed the incident and said that it took place at an area where the Taliban have been mostly in control.
"This incident shows that the Taliban have no mercy for people, and they kill people for any reason," said Ahmad Jawed Basharat, a spokesman for the Baghlan police. "The security forces will punish the perpetrators of these shootings in their cleaning operations."
The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) condemned the Taliban attacks.
The AIRHC "has a clear position with regards to shooting and harming civilians, and civilians must never be targeted in armed conflicts," said Hafizullah Fetrat, regional director of the organisation.
"The commission has always insisted that both the [armed] opposition and government put necessary efforts in place during the operations to protect civilian lives and properties and respect human rights," he said.
"We strongly condemn such incidents that cause civilian casualties, and we call on the judicial and legal institutions to prosecute perpetrators of these acts," he added.
The number of civilian casualties in Kunduz, Takhar and Baghlan provinces has increased this year compared with a year earlier, mostly because of an escalation of fighting and armed conflict, Fetrat said.
Effectiveness of people's uprising
Muhammad Amin Arif, a civil society activist in Baghlan Province, praised the efforts of the local uprising group in trying to clear the Taliban fighters from the area.
"Members of the people's uprising force in remote regions are very effective in securing those areas, and the government should support them," he said.
"This attack shows the actual violent face of the Taliban that impairs peace and stability," he said. "They promote violence to challenge the rule of law in the country."
"We call on security officials and the local government to bring the people's uprising groups under the local police and arm them against the Taliban," he added.
"Those countries supporting the Taliban and providing them with weapons and ammunition need to look at the Taliban's actions and their atrocities against the Afghan people," he added. "They should know that they commit every violence on innocent people and perpetrate any crime [against them]."