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Taliban Defense Minister Admits To Revenge Killings Despite Amnesty

Taliban fighters stand guard at the entrance to a mosque in Kabul on September 17.

The Taliban's acting defense minister, Mullah Mohammad Yaqub, has apparently admitted in an audio statement that militants have committed revenge killings despite the group having declared an amnesty for its adversaries after it returned to power in Afghanistan last month in a blitz offensive.

"Recently, some people have been killed deliberately [by our fighters] in some parts of the country," a voice purported to be Yaqub's can be heard in the recording that is apparently addressing Taliban cadets and commanders.

The voice, which admits that such incidents have happened because of personal enmities and desire for revenge, then recommends restraint and advises against Taliban fighters taking justice into their own hands.

"Once we have declared a general amnesty, none of our fighters have the right to break that amnesty or violate it by settling personal scores or taking personal revenge. If someone has a personal grudge against anyone, they can go to court and get it to address their grievances. But killing or threatening someone is not the policy of the Islamic Emirate and it is against the Islamic Shari'a law," the voice says.

"Everyone needs to follow the Islamic Emirate’s amnesty and refrain from acting individually [to settle scores]," the statement, posted on Twitter on September 23 by Bilal Karimi, a Taliban spokesman, concludes.

Underlining its importance, the message posted by Karimi was retweeted by several Taliban public-relations officials, including Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman and deputy information minister in the Taliban regime.

The militants have tried to reassure Afghans and the international community since seizing Kabul on August 15 that they wanted peace and an inclusive government -- within the values of Islam.

They have vowed not to launch revenge attacks on those who worked with foreign forces or the previous Afghan government.

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