Atrocities blamed on Taliban

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HUMAN RIGHTS Watch yesterday called for a speedy UN investigation into the slaughter of Afghan civilians in Afghanistan by Taliban soldiers, which it described as "one of the worst atrocities" of the civil war.

Afghan survivors who reached Pakistan told officials of the US-based group that marauding Taliban soldiers shot at "anything that moves". They said soldiers went from house to house, dragging out Shia Muslims and shooting them, rounded up thousands of men and packed them into rail cars for transportation to jail.

Patricia Gossman, of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, said: "In a brutal war, this is a particularly brutal episode. We are talking about the systematic execution of perhaps 2,000 civilians, in large because of their ethnic and religious identity."