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Taliban Detains Panjshir Residents Amid Continued Crackdown

Local sources say Taliban intelligence agents detained at least eight* residents of northeastern Panjshir province from neighboring Parwan province last week over suspicion of links with the anti-Taliban armed group, National Resistance Front (NRF).

The residents, the sources added, had sought refuge in Parwan after fleeing from villages in Panjshir’s Shotul district amid intense fighting between Taliban fighters and NRF in the summer of last year. Some were evicted from their homes as a result of consistent threats by local Taliban authorities.

Led by Ahmad Massoud, the son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the NRF is mostly formed of former security forces who fled to Panjshir after the Taliban took control in August 2021. It has since expanded its guerilla fight against the Taliban mainly in the north and northeastern provinces.

In response, the Taliban has retaliated against the resistance members and targeted ex-officials and civilians in Panjshir and its neighboring regions for having affiliation with the NRF.

One resident also told KabulNow that Taliban fighters randomly beat villagers, demanding weapons and forcing them to provide food and water to their fighters. Last month, the Taliban authorities arrested and tortured at least 50 former employees of a private security company in Panjshir.

Rights groups say the Taliban forces have committed war crimes in Panjshir.

“In Panjshir, the Taliban’s cruel tactic of targeting civilians due to suspicion of their affiliation with the NRF is causing widespread misery and fear,” Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said in June.

“The list of war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law committed by the Taliban in Panjshir is extensive: extrajudicial executions, torture, hostage-taking, unlawful detention, and the torching of civilian homes. Each individual act is abhorrent, and this conduct in sum amounts to collective punishment – in itself, a war crime.”

The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett has raised repeated concerns about the Taliban’s violations of human rights in Panjshir.

In his second report, he stated that the Taliban have routinely subjected civilians and prisoners in Panjshir to house-to-house searches, arbitrary arrest and detention, extrajudicial killings, torture, and displacement. He also said the group has heavily suppressed local communities amid an environment of fear.

“Those who have faced atrocities in Panjshir, and indeed all victims of Taliban crimes committed in Afghanistan, deserve an end to impunity and a clear road to justice, truth and reparations,” Agnès Callamard said.

“The creation of an independent international accountability mechanism is essential, with a focus on the collection and preservation of evidence to hold all those suspected of criminal responsibility accountable.”

*Sources identified them as Ainuddin son of Mirza Durkhan, Saifuddin s/o Mirza Durkhan, Mohammad Mahfooz s/o Gulabuddin, Shahwali s/o Mohammad Shah Khan, Sharifullah s/o Abdullah, Abdul Mobin s/o Tawakul, Fazl Ahmad s/o Abdul Ahmad, and Sulaiman Walad s/o Fateh Mohammad.