Taliban denies killing civilians, calls for independent inquiry

The statement comes after the UN said over 1,000 civilians were killed in the past month

Reuters August 12, 2021
Taliban fighters patrol Farah, Afghanistan August 11, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS


Taliban issued a statement after the United Nations said more than 1,000 civilians had been killed in the past month and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that since Aug. 1 some 4,042 wounded people had been treated at 15 health facilities.

Taliban fighters have stepped up their campaign to defeat the US-backed government since April as foreign forces started to withdraw after 20 years of war. The group has seized eight provincial capitals in the past week, raising fears of a return to power of the hardline group.

Taliban spokesperson, Suhail Shaheen, said in a statement that the group “has not targeted any civilians or their homes in any locality, rather the operations have been undertaken with great precision and caution.” He instead blamed Afghan government troops and foreign forces for any civilian deaths.

The United States refuted the Taliban’s denial of responsibility.

“There is, everywhere you look, compelling data points, evidence, imagery of the violence, the bloodshed, the potential atrocities that the Taliban are committing,” US State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters. “We have see it with our own eyes, from some of the footage that’s emerging.”

Read Taliban could take Afghan capital within 90 days after rapid gains: US intelligence

The Taliban proposed that a team made up of the United Nations, ICRC and other aid groups accompany their representatives “to conduct an impartial and independent investigation into the latest events.”

A spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Afghanistan’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Since the start of the year nearly 390,000 people have been newly displaced by the Afghan conflict with a “huge spike” since May, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Wednesday.

“Between July 1 and August 5, 2021, the humanitarian community verified that 5,800 internally displaced persons and arrived in Kabul,” Dujarric said.

Foreign forces aim to be completely out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11. US-backed Afghan forces ousted the Taliban from power in 2001 for refusing to hand over al Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.


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