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Taliban arrest fighter who shot dead Hazara woman ‘by mistake’

Afghan women have protested against civilian killings and an erosion of their rights under Taliban rule

Shweta Sharma
Thursday 20 January 2022 14:31 GMT
File photo: Afghan women and activists hold a banner during a protest in Kabul on 12 January 2022
File photo: Afghan women and activists hold a banner during a protest in Kabul on 12 January 2022 (EPA)

The Taliban has arrested one of its fighters for shooting dead a Hazara woman, in an incident described as a “mistake” by the group following outcry about civilian killings and the erosion of women’s rights in Afghanistan.

Zainab Abdullahi, 25, was killed on Friday in Afghan capital Kabul’s Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood when the Taliban fighter fired at her vehicle at a checkpoint.

Taliban spokesperson Mohammad Naeem said on Twitter that Ms Abdullahi was “killed by mistake” and the fighter has been arrested.

A senior delegation from the interior ministry visited Ms Abdullahi’s home to offer their condolences. The family was also provided a compensation amount of around 600,000 afghani (£4,200), according to a tweet by the government.

A video shared by the ministry showed officials handing out what appeared to be a stack of cash to a family member.

Dozens took to the streets on Sunday to protest against the killings of women and restrictions on them since the Taliban seized power in August.

The women also demanded to know the whereabouts of a female prison officer, Alia Aziz, who has been missing for several months.

Protesters were, however, met with resistance from the Taliban’s fighters, who doused them with pepper spray and used electric shock to disperse the crowd.

Several human rights groups have indicated that the Taliban has imposed strict restrictions on women by placing curbs on their movement, banning them from working and attending schools despite having promised

to respect women’s rights “within Islamic law”.

According to Amnesty International, the Taliban killed 13 ethnic Hazara people in Daykundi province in August. The victims of the massacre included a teenage girl and nine former government soldiers who had surrendered to Taliban. However, the Taliban denied the killings.

The Shiite Hazara community, which is Afghanistan’s third largest ethnic group, has faced years of persecution by Sunni hard-liners such as the Islamic State. They have also been targeted by the Taliban.

“These cold-blooded executions are further proof that the Taliban are committing the same horrific abuses they were notorious for during their previous rule of Afghanistan,” said Agnès Callamard, the secretary general of Amnesty International.

Civilian killings have also been on the rise in Taliban’s Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, Murtaza Ibrahimi, a young boxer, was killed in a crossfire between armed criminals and Taliban fighters, Tolo News said, citing family and officials.

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Tuesday raised concerns over civilian killings and degrading women rights in the country, and urged the United Nations Security Council to hold those guilty accountable.

“I ask all states to use their influence with the Taliban to encourage respect for fundamental human rights,” Ms Bachelet said at a special Security Council meeting.

She noted that “denial of the fundamental rights of women and girls is massively damaging” the Afghan economy. She also noted that the country was “facing a humanitarian disaster of unprecedented proportions”.

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