By Shadi Khan Saif
KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) - An international rights body on Wednesday called for an investigation into alleged summary executions of civilians by Afghan special forces in restive Kandahar province.
According to a statement issued by the Human Rights Watch, local residents in the province told the rights group by phone that the Afghan security forces opened fire on men as they attempted to flee, killing about 50 Taliban fighters and at least 20 civilians.
“The alleged deaths of at least twenty civilians in Band-e Timor area demands a prompt and impartial investigation,” said Patricia Gossman, senior Afghanistan researcher.
“Summarily executing people in custody, whether they are fighters or civilians, is a war crime. Only a full investigation can uncover all who may be responsible.”
The rights body was referring to a military raid by the Afghan forces backed by the U.S. air power in the Maiwand and Panjwai district on Jan. 31. The security forces back then claimed 50 militants were killed and 38 men were detained following the operation.
Following a massive Taliban-claimed ambulance bombing in Kabul last month, the Afghan security forces have scaled-up air and ground offensives against the militants across the country.
The Jan. 27 bombing in the Afghan capital killed more than 100 people and left more than 200 wounded. President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani pronounced this attack as Afghanistan’s 9/11.
In response to latest HRW report, the Afghan Ministry of Defense (MoD) has promised to conduct investigations. It has noted in a statement that the security and defense forces pay serious attention towards ensuring safety and security of the civilians.
“The Afghan government’s failure to investigate past possible crimes by Kandahar’s security forces makes an investigation of this incident more important,” Gossman said.