Taliban Executes Prison Guard, UN Raises Concern Over Afghan Violence
The Taliban abducted and executed a female prison guard in the eastern Afghan province of Ghazni, officials and relatives said Monday, as the United Nations expressed concern over the war’s unending toll on civilians.
Fatima Rajabi, 23, who had trained as a police officer, was pulled out of a civilian minibus on her way to her home village in the Jaghori district two weeks ago. After holding her captive for two weeks, the Taliban executed the young woman and sent her body to her family, her brother, Samiullah Rajabi, said.
“My sister was shot eight times,” Mr. Rajabi said.
“When we opened the coffin, her hands were behind her, together and stiff — you could tell her hands were first tied and they had only untied them after they sent the body.”
The United Nations, in a report released on Monday on civilian harm in the Afghan conflict in the first six months of the year, expressed particular concern about the rise of abductions and executions by the Taliban.
There has been an increase of more than a fivefold in civilian casualties tied to abductions since last year, it said.
Women and children made up about 40 percent of the overall dead and injured, with pro-government forces responsible for the death of more children than the Taliban, the United Nations said. Civilian casualties from airstrikes by Afghan forces tripled from the first half of 2019.
“The reality remains that Afghanistan continues to be one of the deadliest conflicts in the world for civilians,” the report noted.
“Each year, thousands of civilians are killed and injured, abducted, displaced and threatened by parties to the conflict in Afghanistan.”
The numbers still marked an overall 13 percent reduction in civilian casualties — which accounts for injuries and deaths — from the same period last year.
That is largely attributed to a major drop in casualties from US airstrikes and attacks by the ISIS branch in the country, which has shrunk significantly after major military operations.
As part of a withdrawal deal signed with the Taliban in February, the US is no longer deploying its air power against the group except in extreme cases, such as when their Afghan allies are being routed.
Although the US has reduced its troops in the country to about 8,600 — it is on schedule to complete a full withdrawal over a 14-month period laid out in the agreement — other elements of the peace agreement, mainly direct negotiations between the Afghan sides over future power-sharing, have stalled as the violence continues.
“At a time when the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban have a historic opportunity to come together at the negotiating table for peace talks, the tragic reality is that the fighting continues inflicting terrible harm to civilians every day,” said Deborah Lyons, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan.
The New York Times