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Afghanistan to Investigate Video Showing Forces Mutilating Taliban Corpses

2020-08-14 09:15:03
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KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan’s defense ministry said it was investigating a video circulating on social media Thursday that showed men in Afghan army uniform mutilating bodies of purported Taliban fighters.

The intensification of violence on the eve of peace talks to end the war, with fighters from both sides often resorting to brutal tactics, has raised concerns that revenge-taking might continue long after any peace deal is signed.

The two-minute cellphone footage shows the men in uniforms smashing the heads of corpses with hatchets. Other soldiers, with their faces visible, are gathered around the scene — some laugh, some film and photograph, one stands over a body, smoking a cigarette as he poses for a picture.

The Taliban, in a statement, said the bodies of their fighters were mutilated in the Arghandab district of Zabul Province. In early April, the Taliban killed a large number of soldiers from an Afghan army unit there, in the deadliest episode in the district in recent months. An Afghan official said the video likely dates to around that time.

“As the violence continues, we see more brutal and shocking tactics from the sides and examples of revenge-taking, and that is very worrying and impacts any trust in a peace process,” said Shaharzad Akbar, the chief of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission.

“It is on the leadership of the two sides to have clear messages to their fighters to avoid war crimes and actions that furthers the instinct for revenge that will make the reconciliation that should come out of a peace process difficult.”

Taimoor Shah contributed reporting from Kandahar, Afghanistan, and Fahim Abed from Kabul.

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