While cases are difficult to fully verify, there has been a steady stream of claims since the Taliban’s return to power.
Image: District government, Afghan security forces demonstrate progress during Marjah Day [Image 3 of 7] by DVIDSHUB is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
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On June 28, 2023, social media users circulated images allegedly showing the bodies of two former Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) and their family members who had reportedly been killed by Taliban forces in Herat and Paktia provinces respectively.
A Twitter user with over 3K followers shared three photographs, including images of two bodies with an accompanying claim that the Taliban killed a former local police officer, Ghani Jan, in the Pashtun Zarghoon district in Herat, along with his two sons. According to an Instagram post by a journalist with 18.1K followers, the Taliban reportedly beat the victims. A family picture shared on the post showed a man with two boys, both appearing to be minors. However, the photos of bodies shared on social media showed only two individuals.
A comparison between the visible corpses and the family photo allowed AW investigators to establish that one of the bodies belonged to the younger boy and the other to the adult male, presumably the father. AW investigators did not find a photo of the older boy's body on social media. The image of the adult male's body showed a small amount of blood around the nose, which could support the claim of beating.
On the same day, the profile of a freelance journalist on Twitter, Hadia News, shared a [WARNING: GRAPHIC] picture of three different bodies. The user claimed that, on June 28, the first day of Eid al-Adha, the Taliban killed Akbar Khan – described by some posts as a former ANA soldier and others as a former local police commander – and his two sons in the Chamkinu district of Paktia province.
According to Sweden-based Afghan news outlet Voice of Citizens (VOC) News, the victims were shot by the Taliban. Reportedly, the Taliban members beat “the woman” and “killed all the men in the house”. The [WARNING: GRAPHIC] picture of the bodies revealed slight bruising on the nose of the older son and the cheek, nose, and forehead of the father, which may have been caused by a beating. One of the victims can be identified as a minor due to facial features.
Three other incidents, including alleged killing of female former security staff
On June 20 and June 22, a week before the above claimed events, three other alleged extrajudicial executions of former ANDSF members were reportedly carried out in Helmand, Badakhshan, and Jawzjan. The victims were identified as former national security staff Bibi Zahra, and former soldiers Basmillah Turkman and Mohammad Hanif.
The killing of Bibi Zahra is one of the few recorded cases concerning a female ex-government security staff member. Unlike the other two reported extrajudicial killings from that week, there were pictures of the body, providing some evidence of the incident. Although the body in the image was covered, multiple local media agencies, including AamajNews and KabulNow, claimed that Bibi Zahra was tortured and shot.
The other executed ANDSF member, Basmillah Turkman, was allegedly shot in front of his family. The method of the execution of Mohammad Hanif remains unknown. The claim of his killing came one month after his reported arrest.
Similarly, on June 1, another former ANDSF member, Jamshid Mirzaee, was also allegedly arrested, severely tortured, and then reportedly executed by the Taliban after a period of arbitrary detention in an unknown place.
There are frequent claims of killings of former ANDSF by the Taliban, with most claims featuring old images of the individuals involved and occasionally images of bodies. Given the limited evidence, it is usually impossible to verify the context around the deaths or the perpetrators. There has, however, been a steady stream of claims since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.
A steady stream of claims
Despite the initial promises of amnesty, claims of Taliban targeting of former ANDSF have continued since August 2021. An investigation by The New York Times, published in April 2022, claimed that nearly 500 former government workers and security force members were either killed or forcibly disappeared during the first six months following the Taliban's takeover. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) documented at least 306 extrajudicial executions between August 2021 and June 2022, with additional cases reported in December 2022.
More recently, from January 1 to July 10, 2023, AW recorded 108 claims of torture, arbitrary detention, killings, and attacks on former ANDSF members and their families across 28 provinces. This included 57 alleged arbitrary killings across 19 provinces and one in an unknown location. The killings were carried out on former ANDSF members, including security guards, former police officers, former soldiers, and their relatives.
Figure: a map highlighting the location and number of cases of alleged arbitrary killings of former ANDSF, based on reports recorded by AW during the period January 1-July 10, 2023.
Most of the claimed arbitrary killings were reported in Kabul (9), followed by Badakhshan (5), Balkh (5), Herat (5), Kandahar (5), and Nangarhar (5). Four executions each were recorded in Jawzjan and Laghman provinces. In the remaining 11 provinces, the number of executions varied between one to three. There were 72 claimed victims of the arbitrary killings. Some of the victims – allegedly family members of former ANDSF – appeared to be minors at the time of execution.