Weekly brief covering Jan. 29 to Feb. 04

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Last week in Afghanistan, APW recorded a total of 43 incidents, down from 66 from that of the week prior. A key highlight was civilian casualties due to assassinations and direct attacks on civilians involving Iranian border forces and unidentified gunmen.


Some significant instances include Nimroz Public Hospital receiving 18 bodies of Afghan refugees, who had been shot dead by Iranian border police for crossing into their country illegally over the past three months. The latest incident of such kind included shooting a supposed Afghan child fuel smuggler in the head at a border point in Nimroz province last week. Assassinations of former security personnel continued unabated, with the perpetrators remaining unknown. Dragged out her house by the Taliban a day earlier, the mother of a former government soldier was found dead in Mazar Sharif hospital. Similarly, unidentified gunmen shot dead Mohammad Tahir, an ex-policeman, near Arab Qala in Kandahar. Further to the violence in Helmand as compared to last week, unidentified gunmen shot dead a tribal elder – something said to be due to personal enmity.


In terms of demonstrations, three separate protests were staged for different reasons. A group of women gathered at a hidden place to protest against the Taliban’s arrest of two civil activists, Tamana Zaryab and Parvana Ibrahimkhel, demanding their immediate release. Six women rights activists, including Tamana and Parvana, were arrested weeks ago from their homes in Kabul in connection with recent women’s rights protests, and their fate has remained unknown, triggering a series of protests. Meanwhile, several Afghan students gathered on Wednesday in front of the Indian Embassy in Kabul in protest of the suspension of their scholarships by the Indian government since September last year. In a similar vein, hundreds of residents of Qalat city in Zabul province, during a protest rally, called on the international community to recognize the Taliban government and release Afghanistan’s frozen funds.


Anti-Taliban forces were fericous last week and most of their activity concentrated in Baghlan, Parwan, Panjshir, and Badakshan. According to APW sources, Badakhshan provincial hospital has received bodies of at least 10 Taliban fighters who were reportedly killed in recent fighting in Panjshir province – guerrilla attacks by the National Resistance Front (NRF) an anti-Taliban militia. The NRF also attacked Salang district’s headquarters in Parwan province. Despite shootout and rocket shelling, there were no casualties reported.


On the other hand, IEDs were targeting the Taliban in different regions. A car carrying the Taliban governor for Takhar struck a roadside bomb near his house in Takhar province but escaped unscathed. Besides, a roadside bomb struck the vehicle of Taliban commander Hamid Khorasani, aka Naser Badri, in Panjshir province; no casualties were reported. Also, a Taliban pickup truck struck a roadside bomb in Panjshir province, with no casualties reported. This is while a group of armed men, claiming to be affiliated with NRF, have warned that they will resume their attacks on the Taliban after the weather warms up. In a video message surfacing on social media, they said more people are joining them, warning the Taliban not to aggravate their atrocities by assassinating and harassing civilians.


While no arrests were made last week, instances of abduction and forced disappearances included several assailants kidnapping two former government police officers from Hukum Qala village in the Geru district of Ghazni. Despite the Taliban denying any involvement after villagers approached them for investigation, the de facto administration has been capturing many former government soldiers and killed many of them across Afghanistan. Moreover, doctor Ahmad Fawad Perzad, a professor at Kabul University of Medical Sciences and head of the neurosurgery department at Aliabad Hospital, has been abducted from his private examination room. An image showed a group of armed individuals, presumably the Taliban, abducted Dr. Perzad.


Some unconventional incidents included the Taliban’s district chief for Khaja Bahauddin of Takhar province extorting money from the residents to fund a Buzkashi (an Afghan sports) tournament and Taliban warlords and officials having embezzled the aid provided by WFP to Dasht-e-Qala district of Takhar province. Also, in terms of disrupted weapons use, the Taliban have captured a truck in Khost loaded with weapons bound to be smuggled to Pakistan.