Weekly Brief: Jan. 15 to Jan. 21


It was a deadly week for civilians in Afghanistan as targeted killings escalated, especially at security checkpoints. A total of 88 incidents, compared to 73 last week, were recorded by the Afghan Peace Watch’s RiV initiative, of them there were 23 attacks on civilians, leading to 36 civilian casualties. There were also 12 assassinations across the country deliberately targeting civilians, as 11 of them were civilian victims. Moreover, about 13 arrests were documented along with seven protests throughout this week.  

Instances of assassinations included armed assailants gunning down three brothers in Paghman district, shooting a 7-year-old child in Lashkargah and killing a civilian in Pul Khumri city. Two children of a former soldier were killed at a checkpoint in Badakhshan while a female civil activist was assassinated near her home in Mazar Sharif city. Moreover, gunmen killed five Taliban fighters and injured three in a fierce shooting in Kunar.

Taliban were unabating in their systematic suppression of the right to protest as they quelled several small-scale demonstrations. They sprayed pepper spray and tear gas to disperse a group of women protesting outside Kabul University against the Taliban’s so-called misogynist policies earlier last week. They also arrested two of those protesters in a night raid. A few other anti-Taliban demonstrations were staged in Kabul, Parwan and Kunduz.

In a series of blatant killings, the Taliban killed ten NRF Resistance fighters in an overnight operation in the Kashanda district of Balkh. In Khost, the Taliban opened fire on a group of street vendors protesting against the Taliban’s extortion and harassment, killing at least three of them and injuring another three. They murdered a Balkh Petroleum employee at a checkpoint shooting in Mazar Sharif. Their fighters killed an ex-soldier in Helmand and shot dead a civilian in Herat and a woman in Takhar.

In Zabul, a local Taliban chief beat up a former ANP soldier and took his land. Much to their chagrin, three civilians in the Chahe Ab district of Baghlan were roughed up for playing a mobile game. In a night raid in Nangarhar, the Taliban kidnapped two brothers who had been ANA soldiers in the previous regime. They also arrested several outlawed Hizb ut-Tahrir party members in Takhar for pro-ISIS propaganda.

A child died in Bagrami district of Kabul after a roadside bomb exploded on a Taliban convoy wounding four of them. Two children were severely injured after a mortar shell blew up, killing two adults in a village in Baghlan. Another mortar blast killed a child in Helmand. Famed boxer Murteza Ibrahimi was killed in a shootout between Taliban soldiers and a robbery gang in Kabul.

Internal clashes inside Taliban were rampant. Two Taliban commanders fought a fierce standoff in Takhar as a district governor tried to steal 100 bags of flour. A Taliban commander ambushed a car carrying another Taliban fighter in Baghlan, killing him and wounding his driver. In another sign of internal rift, the Taliban arrested one of their commanders in Sar Pul.

In a clear violation of human rights, the Taliban are purportedly holding hundreds of criminal detainees in small shipping containers in Takhar. This is as a local Taliban commander and his bodyguards beat a detainee in Nangarhar to death besides beating up hundreds of spectators of a football match before confiscating their mobile phones at Ahmad Shah Baba Stadium in Kandahar. Many unprovoked arrests were also made. They arrested the organizer of an anti-Pakistan rally in Kabul and a teacher in Balkh for anti-Taliban activities. A Canadian man named Francois-Xavier Paradis was also detained in Uruzgan province. Taliban raided a house in Kandahar and took four former government employees in their custody. Imam of Taleghan grand mosque in Takhar, a staunch critic, was arrested for his anti-Taliban sermons, an arrest preceded by a shootout. Taliban shot a woman dead, injured her child in Laghman, and murdered a former commander in Zabul. A young man was also found dead in Paktia.

Herat city was a hotbed of criminal activity as usual, fatal armed robberies and kidnappings continued unabated. An IS-K fighter killed a Taliban fighter there as well. Taliban also killed doctor Jalali in a shooting.

Moreover, NRF also staged an attack against the Taliban in Panjshir. A source said ten Taliban forces were killed in two explosions. Similarly, two fighters were killed and three wounded after gunmen threw a hand grenade at a Taliban base in Takhar.