Taliban security forces in northern Afghanistan have unlawfully detained and tortured residents accused of association with an opposition armed group, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement Friday.
Since mid-May 2022, fighting has escalated in Panjshir province as National Resistance Front (NRF) forces have attacked Taliban units and checkpoints, HRW said.
The Taliban have responded by deploying to the province thousands of fighters, who have carried out search operations targeting communities they allege are supporting the NRF, the group added.
“Taliban forces have committed summary executions and enforced disappearances of captured fighters and other detainees, which are war crimes,” also in other provinces, it said.
In a mountainous valley north of Kabul, the last remnants of Afghanistan’s shattered security forces have vowed to resist the Taliban in a remote region that has defied conquerors before.
Nestled in the towering Hindu Kush, the Panjshir Valley has a single narrow entrance. Local fighters held off the Soviets there in the 1980s, and the Taliban a decade later under the leadership of Ahmad Shah Massoud, a guerrilla fighter who attained near-mythic status before he was killed in a suicide bombing.
His 33-year-old foreign-educated son, Ahmad Massoud, and several top officials from the ousted Western-backed government have vowed to resist the Taliban.
“Taliban forces in Panjshir province have quickly resorted to beating civilians in their response to fighting against the opposition National Resistance Front,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Taliban’s longstanding failure to punish those responsible for serious abuses in their ranks puts more civilians at risk.” Gossman was quoted in the statement.