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Human rights group, Amnesty International has revealed that the Taliban “massacred” and brutally tortured several members of the Hazara minority in Afghanistan, in July.
The Hazara community is Afghanistan’s third largest ethnic group.
They mainly practise Shia Islam and have faced long-term discrimination and persecution in predominantly Sunni Afghanistan and Pakistan.
According to AI, witnesses have given harrowing accounts of the killings, which took place in early July in Ghazni province.
This comes after Taliban tried to portray a more restrained image, taking over the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday August 15 .
The Taliban have promised blanket amnesty and said they won’t retaliate or carry out retributions.
Amnesty International in its statement revealed that the incident was a “horrifying indicator” of Taliban rule.
In the report published on Thursday, August 19, Amnesty said the nine Hazara men were killed between 4 and 6 July in Malistan district in the eastern Ghazni province.
Villagers said they had escaped to the mountains when fighting intensified between government forces and Taliban fighters.
When some of them returned to the village of Mundarakht to collect food, they said the Taliban had looted their homes and were waiting for them. Separately, some men who passed through Mundarakht on their way home to their hamlet were also ambushed.
In total six men were allegedly shot, some in the head, and three were tortured to death.
According to witness accounts, one man was strangled with his own scarf and had his arm muscles sliced off. Witnesses say another victim was shot.
Amnesty’s Secretary-General Agnès Callamard said: “The cold-blooded brutality of these killings is a reminder of the Taliban’s past record, and a horrifying indicator of what Taliban rule may bring.”
“These targeted killings are proof that ethnic and religious minorities remain at particular risk under Taliban rule in Afghanistan.”
The report added that mobile phone services have been cut in many of the areas that have been captured by the Taliban, and so information about the killing had not leaked out until now.
Amnesty called on the UN to investigate and protect those at risk.
The Taliban who captured back power on Sunday, were known for their brutal rule of Afghanistan which deprived women and ethnic minorities of their rights, before they were ousted by a US-led coalition in 2001.