Isis fighters who surrender may be granted amnesty despite alleged atrocities, Afghan officials say

150 Isis militants, including two senior commanders, lay down arms after weeks of fighting with the Taliban

Isis fighters who surrendered to Afghan forces stand during a ceremony in Sheberghan, capital of Jawzjan province
Isis fighters who surrendered to Afghan forces stand during a ceremony in Sheberghan, capital of Jawzjan province

Isis fighters accused of rape and murder may be granted amnesty after they surrendered to Afghan forces.

Around 150 members of the militant group gave themselves up in Afghanistan's province of Jawzjan. The group included two senior commanders.

Local civilians, many of whom have fled the area, have given detailed accounts of how the fighters abducted, raped and murdered women and girls.

But the group’s decision to lay down arms meant it was likely they would not be charged, in order to encourage other fighters to surrender, officials said.

“Any adversary of the government that joins the peace process has to be given amnesty, because if they are taken before the judges, other adversaries who have reached an agreement with the government will go cold on it,” said Mohammad Reza Ghafouri, spokesman for the Jawzjan provincial governor.

He added that people with allegations against individual Isis fighters could pursue them independently through the courts.

One Afghan general said that Isis members would face justice for any crimes they had committed, and he doubted the potential for reconciliation

The Taliban has taken credit for the surrender, claiming they drove the fighters from their strongholds after weeks of fighting.

Officials say this is the largest number of Isis fighters to surrender at once. Women and children related to the militants also gave themselves in. The group are believed to be all Afghan. Any fighters who were foreign may have been captured or killed by the Taliban.

The US looks set to reopen peace talks with the Taliban, after holding meetings with them at least twice in the last three months, according to the Financial Times. Isis has shown no sign of taking part in the peace process.

Despite the suggestion of amnesty, one Afghan general said that Isis members would face justice for any crimes they had committed, and he doubted the potential for reconciliation.

“I am concerned and afraid that after surrendering, these people will commit more crimes because they are completely untrustworthy”, said Jawzjan security commander General Faqir Mohammad Jawzjani.

A spokesman for the Afghan defence ministry said that the fate of the former militants was for the government, not the military, to decide.

“As defenders of our people and country, our job is to fight our enemy until the battle ground”, said Mohammad Radmanish.

“Now they have surrendered... our job is done.”

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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