ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (HPD) — The Taliban captured, bound and shot dead 27 men in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley last month during a crackdown on resistance there, according to a report released Tuesday, which it rejected. the group’s previous claims that the men had been killed in combat.
A video of the killings verified by the report showed five men blindfolded and their hands tied behind their backs. Taliban fighters would then shoot at them for 20 seconds and shout in celebration.
The Afghan Witness investigation, an open source project run by the Center for Information Resilience, a British-based non-profit organization, is a rare verification of allegations that the Taliban have employed brutal methods against opposing forces and their allies, according to their investigators. Since taking power in August 2021, the Taliban have imposed a harsher and stricter regime, while at the same time seeking international recognition for their rule.
The report offers “the clearest example” of the Taliban conducting an “orchestrated purge” of resistance fighters, said David Osborn, Afghan Witness team manager.
Afghan Witness said he analyzed dozens of audiovisual sources on social media, most of them videos and photos, to conclusively link a group of Taliban fighters to the killings of 10 men in Panjshir’s Dara District, including the five seen in the video.
It also said it had confirmed another 17 extrajudicial executions with more images on social media showing dead men with their hands tied behind their backs. Videos and photos of Taliban fighters with the bodies helped place the events in space and time, as well as providing close-ups of the fighters on the ground. That information was crossed with other videos suspected of showing the same group.
“Using open source techniques we have established the facts surrounding the systematic and summary execution of a group of men in the Panjshir Valley in mid-September,” Osborn said. “At the time of their execution, the detainees were bound and posed no threat to their Taliban captors.”
An Afghan delegation is investigating the videos posted on social media, according to Enayatullah Khawarazmi, a Taliban-appointed spokesman for the defense minister. The spokesman declined to give further details because the investigation was still ongoing.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban government spokesman, could not be contacted at first.
In remarks reported by media, Mujahid said last month that the Taliban had killed 40 resistance fighters and captured more than 100 in Panjshir. He did not elaborate on how the 40 men had died.
The contingent fighting in the mountainous Panjshir Valley north of Kabul – a remote area that has defied occupying forces in the past – comes from the remnants of the fragmented Afghan security forces. The group has vowed to resist the Taliban after they took over the country and came to power in August 2021.
“The Taliban committed war crimes by killing surrendered POWs at close range and the videos are proof of this,” said Ali Maisam Nazary, director of foreign affairs for the National Resistance Front for Afghanistan.
An Afghan witness said he had credible evidence of another 30 deaths in last month’s Taliban offensive against resistance fighters in Panjshir.