Brother of Afghan opposition figure Amrullah Saleh executed by Taliban, family says

Rohullah Azizi is said to have been killed by militants at a checkpoint in Panjshir valley

Daniel Keane
Saturday 11 September 2021 15:55

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The Taliban has executed the brother of Amrullah Saleh, the former Afghan vice president and a leading figure in the resistance movement against the Islamists, his nephew has said.

Rohullah Azizi was shot dead by militants from the group after stopping at a checkpoint in the Panjshir valley, it is claimed.

“They executed my uncle,” Ebadullah Saleh said in a text message to the Reuters news agency. “They killed him yesterday and would not let us bury him. They kept saying his body should rot.”

He told the Associated Press it was unclear where his uncle was driving to when he was killed. The Urdu language account of the Taliban information service Alemarah said that “according to reports” Mr Azizi had been shot dead .

Amrullah Saleh remains at large though his exact location is unclear. Since the fall of Kabul, he has declared himself the acting president of Afghanistan and has been leading a band of fighters from the National Resistance Front in Afghanistan (NRF) in the Panjshir valley.

He told Euronews last week that the resistance was not over despite the Taliban’s formal declaration of an Islamic emirate and its formation of a government. Mr Saleh stressed he would not flee the country like former president Ashraf Ghani, who has since apologised for the manner of his retreat.

“I am a soldier of [mujahideen leader] Ahmad Shah Massoud and, in his dictionary, there was no such thing as fleeing, exile and leaving the nation in bad moments,” he told the broadcaster. “If I had escaped, I might have been physically alive, but as soon as I reached any corner of the globe, I would have died instantly.”

Mohammad Zahir Akbar, Afghanistan’s ambassador in neighbouring Tajikistan, told reporters on Wednesday that Mr Saleh had remained in the Panjshir province following the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul and was “temporarily performing the duties of president”.

The NRF has disputed the Taliban’s claim to have taken control of the entire country, insisting that they remain “all over” the Panjshir valley despite the capture of regional capital Bazarak on 6 September.

The sparse, mountainous region has traditionally been a focal point for rebel groups in recent history. The Northern Alliance, a coalition of military groups that operated during the previous era of Taliban rule, used the area as a base between 1996 and 2001.

Last week, the NRF denounced the Taliban’s new interim government as “illegitimate” and called for a nationwide uprising against the country’s Islamist rulers.

“The narrative of a modern Taliban is over. There is no Taliban in favour of an inclusive government,” the group’s spokesperson Ali Maisam Nazary told the Agence France-Presse news agency. “This is going to become a pariah government, an illegitimate government.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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