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HRW Investigation Uncovers Killings Of Alleged IS-K Militants Who Were Forcibly Disappeared

Taliban fighters patrol on vehicles along a street in Kabul on September 2, 2021.

A global human rights watchdog has investigated the killing of more than 100 alleged Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) militants after they were disappeared by the ruling Taliban, which seized power in Afghanistan in August.

In a report released on July 7, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that residents of the eastern provinces of Kunar and Nangarhar discovered at least 100 corpses dumped in canals and other places in the region considered a hotbed of IS-K activity.

“Taliban authorities appear to have given their forces free rein to detain, ‘disappear,’ and kill alleged militants,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at HRW.

Gossman said their investigation focused on an emptied canal in Nangarhar where “over 100 bodies have been dumped between August 2021 and April 2022.”

Based on extensive interviews in the two provinces, HRW and its local partners counted 54 bodies of men, many in an advanced state of decomposition, along a 15- to 20-kilometer stretch of the canal.

“The bodies showed evidence of torture and brutal executions: some had missing limbs, ropes around their necks, or had been beheaded or had slit throats,” HRW said.

The Taliban has embarked on an aggressive campaign against Afghanistan’s tiny Salafist community for alleged links to IS-K. Members of the community accused the Taliban of detaining and killing followers of the puritanical Muslim sect. They also accused the Taliban of raiding their mosques and madrasahs.

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