Survivors Of Deadly Taliban Raid On Hazara Village In Afghanistan Demand Justice

By RFE/RL's Radio Azadi

Taliban fighters carried out a deadly raid last month in Afghanistan's central province of Daikundi.

The militant group said it targeted and killed "armed rebels" in a village outside of the provincial capital, Nilli, on November 25.

But locals said the at least eight people killed in the Taliban attack were all civilians, including four children. They said the Taliban also wounded four civilians and detained several others.

Among those killed in the village of Siwak was Mehdi, a 14-year-old boy.

"Mehdi was killed by the first bullet that hit him," his mother, Madina, told RFE/RL's Radio Azadi. "But they continued to shoot him at him. He was hit by another bullet above the heart."

Madina's husband, Muhammad Alam, was also killed in the Taliban assault. "My husband and child were innocent," she said. "We are just peasants."

The survivors and the families of the victims in Daikundi have called for an independent probe into the killings.

The killings in Daikundi, which is home to the country's Shi'ite Hazara community, was widely condemned.

During its oppressive rule from 1996-2001, the Taliban terrorized Hazaras, wrestling control of Hazara regions in Afghanistan through a campaign of targeted killings.

Since seizing control of Kabul in August 2021, the Taliban has tried to assuage Hazaras' fears of discrimination and persecution. But rights group have documented the extrajudicial killings of Hazaras and forced evictions of Hazaras by the Taliban in parts of the country.

Most of the attacks on Hazaras have been blamed on the Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) extremist group, which considers Shi'a as apostates who should be killed.

"The Taliban continues to kill [Hazara] civilians, including women and children, in violation of Islamic and human values," Mohammad Hassan Hakimi, a Hazara activist, told Radio Azadi. "[They are killed] without any proof of crime or trial."

The United Nations Assistance Mission In Afghanistan (UNAMA) on December 1 said it was "working to establish facts on the recent killings in Siwak."

"Very serious reports of civilian casualties, with extrajudicial killings, at least 8 fatalities, including children," UNAMA said in a tweet. "UNAMA has engaged Taliban on the need for credible investigation & accountability."

Richard Bennett, the UN special rapporteur for human rights in Afghanistan, has called on the Taliban to conduct a transparent investigation.

Abdul Nafi Takor, a spokesman for the Taliban's Interior Ministry, said the group's forces stormed a house in Daikundi after several "armed men" hiding at the property refused to hand over their weapons.

"Nine armed people were killed and four people were injured," he said. "It is not true that children were killed, or that any other harm was done."

But that has been disputed by the families and survivors of the Taliban's deadly raid.

Mozhgan lost her husband and uncle in the raid. She told Radio Azadi that Taliban fighters shot and killed her husband after detaining him.

"We expect the [Taliban] to release our detained relatives," she said of her four male relatives still detained by the group.

Holding the blood-stained clothes of her son, Madina has staged a sit-in in Nilli to raise awareness about the killings. She has called for the international community to investigate the incident.

"The blood of our martyrs was shed unjustly," she said. "They must receive justice. Our guilt should either be established or they [the Taliban] should answer for what they did."