Security forces killed 60 Taliban after Taliban takes control of Helmand: report

International Human Rights Law Group researchers interviewed 100 people including victims, guards and shopkeepers

At least 60 Afghan security personnel died at the hands of the Taliban after surrendering to the insurgents, a new report by Human Rights Watch alleges.

The study into human rights in Afghanistan from 20 January 2018 – which looked at deaths and detention over a two-month period, including civilians killed by government forces – found that government forces killed over 3,600 people while insurgents killed 1,223.

The Taliban had identified the detainees as members of government forces after seizing control of the southern province of Helmand in July last year.

“Afghan security forces have arrested and executed scores of security forces, setting back the fragile gains that the government has made in curbing the Taliban’s lethal attacks and illegal detention operations in Afghanistan,” Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

Reports of death and abuse in Afghan police and army facilities came after a previous HRW report in November of 2016, detailing allegations of widespread torture and ill-treatment in Afghan intelligence and army facilities.

“In more than half of interviews with Afghan security forces, we received credible allegations that detainees were killed by fellow security forces after they were arrested by Taliban,” the report said.

Some security forces, including the police and army, have recently attempted to implement a new code of conduct, HRW said.

Following the bloody fight to take control of Helmand, Afghan forces took more responsibility for struggling districts. With funding continuing to dwindle under the “Afghan enduring force” agreement reached in 2016, they are also under growing pressure from international forces.

Local councils, however, are aware of only three inspectors with the Afghan inspector general for national security, according to the report.

While the report released on Tuesday states that the death toll in the two-month period was still small in comparison to figures from previous years, those interviewed who had escaped torture or detention believed there could be more abuse to come.

“It’s really hard to tell now, but there is a possibility that the number of detainees is going to rise,” Faiz Mohammad, a witness to detainee abuse, told HRW.

At least 30 police and 14 soldiers were murdered by the Taliban in Helmand province, which suffered the highest death toll for the month of January with 292 dead and 170 detained. In other districts of the south, including Nimroz, Uruzgan and Ghazni, detainees reported shootings, beatings and killings.

The HRW study also found multiple cases of female detainees who have disappeared, but who went on to be killed, the report said.

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