Security

Afghans demand end to Taliban's continuing murder of innocent civilians

By Omar

Afghan civil society activists, women, religious scholars and other residents of Herat Province held a protest July 8 in front of the United Nations office in Guzara District to condemn the Taliban's killing of civilians. [Omar]

HERAT -- Almost 3,000 civilians have been killed or wounded over the past six months in Afghanistan and the Taliban are the main perpetrators of the carnage, an Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) report revealed.

During the first six months of 2020, there were a total of 2,957 civilian casualties, including 1,213 dead and 1,744 injured in 880 separate incidents, according to the Tuesday (July 14) report.

The figures mean that an average of 16 civilians were killed daily during the first six months of the year.

There were 297 casualties among women, including 126 dead and 171 wounded, while casualties among children reached 630 -- 225 dead and 405 wounded.

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A victim, injured in a Taliban explosion at a cattle market in Sangin District, is brought to a hospital in Lashkargah, Helmand Province, on June 29, 2020. [Noor Mohammad/AFP]

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Afghan civil society activists, women, religious scholars and other residents of Herat Province hold a protest July 8 in front of the United Nations office in Guzara District to condemn the Taliban's killing of civilians. [Omar]

The Taliban was responsible for almost half -- 48.5% -- of the casualties and the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) was responsible for 6.3%, according to the AIHRC.

Unknown perpetrators were responsible for 26.7%, while government forces and international forces were responsible for 15.5% and 2.3%, respectively.

The remaining percentage of civilian casualties was caused by Pakistani rocket fire in Kunar, Kandahar, Paktia and Khost, the AIHRC said.

During the first half of 2020, the Taliban killed 542 civilians and injured another 896, totalling 1,438 casualties.

No mercy

In Herat and Badghis provinces, civilian casualties have increased because of Taliban attacks and explosions, say local authorities.

The Taliban have planted mines along roads and highways, and a large number of civilians have lost their lives as a result of the explosions in recent months, said Faiz Muhammad Mirzazada, deputy governor of Badghis Province.

He gave one example from July 8.

"Two children, ages 14 and 15, were martyred by a Taliban bomb in Ab Kamari District," he said. "The Taliban had planted a mine on a main road, and these children were hit... as they walked home."

Mirzazada called the attack "satanic" and "a crime against humanity".

"As the Taliban don't have the ability to fight with the security forces in Badghis Province, they resort to planting mines and committing terrorist attacks along the roads, which kill civilians," he said.

"The Taliban have no mercy for anyone, and it doesn't make a difference to them whether civilians are killed in their attacks and bomb blasts."

The Taliban target civilians to reach their goals of inflicting casualties and losses on ordinary Afghans, said Jilani Farhad, spokesperson for the Herat governor.

"Saving human lives is an important priority for the security forces," he said.

There have been no reports of civilian casualties in security forces' operations in Herat Province, Farhad said, adding that a main focus of the Afghan forces is to avoid civilian casualties and protect Afghans' property during their operations.

"It has been witnessed that the Taliban have used civilians as human shields in most of their operations," he added.

An un-Islamic act

In Herat Province, Afghan civil society activists, women, religious scholars and other residents of the province held a protest July 8 in front of the United Nations office in Guzara District to condemn the Taliban's killing of civilians.

"We ask the United Nations to send a delegation to Afghanistan to seriously investigate war crimes and civilian killings and try those involved in these killings in a court of law," said Susan Naweesa, a member of the Civilian Protection Working Group in Herat.

"All Afghans condemn civilian killings," said Fatima Farahi, a women's rights activist in Herat. "Afghans have made sacrifices for more than 40 years so they should no longer be killed."

Afghans are optimistic for peace and it is not fair that they are mercilessly killed this way, she said.

"We call on parties to the conflict to stop fighting as Afghans cannot tolerate sacrificing for this meaningless war," she said. "They do not want to lose their lives for political games and the personal interests of [terrorist] groups."

"Islam prohibits the killing of innocent human beings -- even if they are not Muslim -- but some terrorist groups kill innocent people in the name of Islam," said Maulawi Aqa Muhammad Gulrani, a religious scholar in Herat Province.

"There has been a rise in civilian casualties in a number of provinces because of an increase in violence and terrorist attacks such as bomb blasts and suicide attacks, which are against Islamic and religious values," he said.

Every time the Taliban commit a crime killing civilians, they loudly deny their involvement, Gulrani said. But Afghans know that no one other than the Taliban and ISIS are involved in killing civilians.

"In general, Islam does not condone violence and it doesn't allow Muslims to fight with each other," he said. "But the Taliban and other criminal groups kill innocent civilians who are not involved in the war without any reason, which is an illegitimate act."

"If the Taliban believed in the hereafter, they wouldn't murder innocent people; therefore, it is obvious they don't have faith in the hereafter, and they do whatever they wish to do," Gulrani said.

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If America want, she [America] can bring peace in Afghanistan in a period of two weeks. For example, she tells Pakistan not to move and if it moves, it will immediately impose economic sanctions on it, and declare it as a supporter of terrorism. The rest, she may send one aircraft to Quetta, a second to Peshawar, one more to Islamabad and a fourth to Qatar, where should bring Taliban's leaders to Kabul like donkeys, tell Ashraf Ghani not to move, arrange negotiations inside 48 hours to hold talks, all the fighting and non-fighting factions each introduce three representatives, and invite three representatives from each province. All of them may be around 500 people, ask all of them to sit in the Loya Jirga tent and tell them to make whatever type of [government] system they may want to make because the international community can no more take economic and security responsibility of Afghanistan, I am sure that everything will get normal in two weeks. Afterwards, either if American supports or Europe does, Afghanistan may possibly need foreign aids for a year or two, the rest everything will be ok.

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One of the miseries of war is that in addition to the casualties inflicted on the parties engaged in the war, innocent people also get hurt, because different types of weapons are used in war, and most of the time wars take place in the areas where people live. Therefore, whether we want or not, civilians get hurt in war. So, efforts should be made to end the war of Afghanistan as soon as possible. There is no family in Afghanistan that has not given sacrifice in the forty-year long war of Afghanistan. At least one member of each family must have been killed in the ranks of Army, Police, National Directorate of Security, Public Order Police, or in the ranks of dissidents; namely, Taliban, ISIS, and other extremist groups. Half of the casualties are related to the civilians. The reason for civilian casualties inflicted by anti-government groups in Afghanistan is that they have often used the civilians as human shields and fire at the security forces from the houses of the people. And the reason for civilian casualties inflicted by the government forces is that Afghan government doesn’t have professional forces that can prevent civilian casualties in the war. That’s why people have always wanted from both Taliban and the government to stop the war. In fact, people performed their duty, and they always raised their voice for stopping of the war.

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It is a good report. There are some kind of marks at the beginning and end of the writing under the photo [caption]. What are they for? In the following text you can see these are used at the beginning and the end there. Afghan Civil Society activists, women, religious scholars and other residents of Herat province protested in front of the United Nations' office in Guzra District and condemned killing of civilians by Taliban. [Omar]

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