The Taliban takeover in Afghanistan took place last August amid a complete withdrawal of US troops, spurring fears of revenge by the Taliban among the former military and state officials, as well as those who assisted the US and allied forces. Refugees were fleeing en masse to avoid reprisals. In turn, the Taliban government announced a general amnesty, assuring the safety of former government workers and personnel of the Afghan security forces.
Yet an investigation conducted by The New York Times has revealed that about 500 former state officials and military personnel were either murdered or forcibly disappeared within six months of the Taliban’s resurgence.
The paper confirmed 86 killings in Baghlan Province alone, with 114 people missing in Kandahar Province. The daily added the Taliban is exploiting the amnesty as a trap to lure soldiers out of hiding.
“They summoned me to the police headquarters. I figured because if the amnesty they might just ask a few questions…They started beating me and threw me in a water well, while telling me, ‘You’ve fought against us for many years and killed so many of our best people’. I really believed that they were going to kill me. So many of my fellow soldiers were also thrown into the water well. These brutalities still continue to this day,” a former Afghan military commander, who claimed anonymity told the NYT.
Taliban officials have denied the killings, saying the allegations are baseless and being used as propaganda tool by their opponents “in order to mislead the opinion of the world” about the Taliban.
The newspaper added that its staff conducted an investigation for seven months, using various methods to verify the data, including forensic video examinations, local media reports, and interviews with survivors, witnesses, and family members of the victims.
The Taliban’s swift ascension to power in Afghanistan occurred in mid-August 2021, triggering such economic distress that it pushed the country to the brink of a humanitarian crisis. Thousands of Afghans fled the country fearful of the Taliban’s revenge and widespread violations of human rights. The dire economic and humanitarian situation compelled the Taliban to announce an amnesty to help prevent people from fleeing the country and enables Afghanistan to avoid isolation from the outside world