Taliban going door-to-door hunting for targets who worked for Nato forces despite ‘amnesty’, UN says

Those who worked in ‘central positions in military’ are at greatest risk, UN report warns

Shweta Sharma,Holly Bancroft
Friday 20 August 2021 09:54
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Afghans erecting national flag in Abdul Haq square, Kabul, in defiance of Taliban
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The Taliban are going door-to-door searching for people who worked for Nato forces or the previous Afghan government, a UN document has warned.

The militants have intensified their manhunt for “individuals and collaborators” who worked with the former administration and are threatening family members if unable to find their targets, according to the confidential document produced by the RHIPTO Norwegian Center for Global Analyses, a group that provides intelligence to the UN.

“Particularly at risk are individuals in central positions in military, police and investigative units,” the report said.

The threat to people on the Taliban’s blacklist comes despite the Islamist group’s announcement of a “general amnesty” to people across the country after they swept to power by taking Kabul by force on Sunday.

The Islamists had said they would seek no “revenge” against former opponents and that everyone will be “forgiven”, in comments made during their first press conference since the takeover on Tuesday. Spokesperson Zabihullan Mujahid told reporters that the group did not seek “internal or external enemies”.

Christian Nellemann, who led the team behind the report, told BBC News: “There are a high number of individuals that are currently being targeted by the Taliban and the threat is crystal clear.

“It is in writing that, unless they give themselves in, the Taliban will arrest and prosecute, interrogate and punish family members on behalf of those individuals.”

Mr Nellemann warned that there could be mass executions of anyone on the Taliban’s blacklist.

It comes as tens of thousands of Afghans who worked with Western forces and foreigners remain stranded in Kabul, with only the capital’s main airport still under US and Nato control.

Efforts continue to conduct the speedy evacuation of at-risk personnel, but these are being hampered by Taliban checkpoints on the roads leading up to the airport. While those with US passports are generally being allowed to pass, Afghan nationals in particular are being turned back.

There are mounting fears for Afghans who worked with foreign forces. About 300 Afghan interpreters and their relatives have already been killed by militants before Afghanistan fell to Taliban’s control, according to the non-profit organisation No One Left Behind.

More than 18,000 people have been evacuated from Kabul since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, a Nato official said on Friday, adding that they will double their evacuation efforts.

The official said some 6,000 more, including Afghan interpreters, remain on standby to be taken out of the country by Friday.

The White House said on Friday that about 9,000 people have been evacuated from Kabul since 14 August with 3,000 evacuations done on Thursday alone.

Meanwhile, the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported that Taliban fighters shot and killed a relative of a DW journalist while hunting for him.

The militants were conducting a house-to-house search for the journalist, who now works in Germany.

A second relative was seriously wounded but others were able to escape, according to DW.

The director general of the German broadcaster, Peter Limbourg, said: “The killing of a close relative of one of our editors by the Taliban yesterday is inconceivably tragic, and testifies to the acute danger in which all our employees and their families in Afghanistan find themselves.

“It is evident that the Taliban are already carrying out organised searches for journalists, both in Kabul and in the provinces. We are running out of time!”

RHIPTO’s Christian Nellemann said: “They are targeting the families of those who refuse to give themselves up, and prosecuting and punishing their families ‘according to Sharia law’.

“We expect both individuals previously working with NATO/US forces and their allies, alongside with their family members to be exposed to torture and executions.”

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