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Rights Group: 33 Afghan Civilians Killed In 'Targeted Attacks' In Kandahar In Two Weeks

A member of the Afghan special forces directs traffic during an operation in Kandahar Province on July 13.

An Afghan rights watchdog says that 33 civilians, including activists, tribal elders, and journalists, have been killed in "targeted attacks" in the southern province of Kandahar in recent weeks.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said the attacks took place both in the Taliban-held districts and areas under government control.

"According to the reports we gathered, a total of 33 people, including two women, have lost their lives in targeted killings across Kandahar between June 24 and July 6," AIHRC spokesman Zabiullah Farhang told RFE/RL on July 25.

Local government employees, journalists, activists, tribal elders, and religious figures are being killed in targeted attacks, Farhang said.

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The rights group expressed concern over "these alarming assaults on people who are not participating in the war" and urged both the government and the militant group to "protect civilians."

No group has claimed responsibility for the killings, the spokesman said.

Dozens of civil society activists, lawyers, journalists, and others were killed in targeted attacks across Afghanistan over the past year. The government blamed the attacks on the Taliban. But authorities rarely made any arrests or revealed the findings of their probes into the killings.

The security situation has deteriorated in Afghanistan in recent months as international forces complete their withdrawal from the war-torn country after 20 years.

The Taliban has made significant territorial gains and now controls about half of Afghanistan's roughly 400 districts. However, the militants have yet to capture any of the 34 provincial capitals.

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