Amid Violent Reprisals, Afghans Fear The Taliban’s ‘amnesty’ Was Empty

By Yogita Limaye
BBC News, Kabul

image sourceEPA

image captionTaliban fighters in Kabul. Reports say the group is targeting perceived enemies despite promising an amnesty.

Since they took control of Afghanistan just over two weeks ago, the Taliban have sought to portray a more moderate image than when they last seized power in 1996.

They have repeatedly said they will grant amnesty to all, including those who worked for western militaries or the Afghan government or police. In a dramatic press conference after the group swept into Kabul, chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid made a declaration of forgiveness.

But there is growing evidence that the reality on ground is different to the rhetoric coming from Taliban leaders and spokesmen. It was not lost on some watching the press conference in Kabul that Mr Mujahid made his declaration from the seat of the former government spokesman Dawa Khan Menapal, who had been killed by the group just weeks earlier, as “punishment for his deeds”.

Now sources inside Afghanistan, as well as some who recently fled, have told the BBC that Taliban fighters are searching for, and allegedly killing, people they pledged they would leave in peace.

Several sources confirmed that Taliban fighters last week executed two senior police officials – Haji Mullah Achakzai, the security director of Badghis province, and Ghulam Sakhi Akbari, security director of Farah province. Video footage showed Mr Achakzai was kneeling, blindfolded, with his hands tied behind his back before he was shot.

Those who managed to flee say they fear for their colleagues back home. Zala Zazai, a former Afghan policewoman, one of thousands trained since the Taliban was deposed in 2001, said she was still in touch with other former policewomen.

“The Taliban call them from their office phones and ask them to come to work, and ask for their home address,” she said.

Ms Zazai said that even in Tajikistan she was not totally out of the reach of the Taliban. Her mother, who is with her, received messages urging both women to return to Afghanistan and “live in the Islamic way”, she said.

A former Afghan soldier who fled from Badakhshan province along with his three brothers, all of whom were in the army, said Taliban fighters were harassing his family, “asking them for money saying your son was in the special forces”.

And a former Afghan special forces soldier still inside the country told the BBC that he and his family were in hiding after former colleagues were killed.

“Since the Taliban have come to power they haven’t stopped killing,” he said. “A few days ago, they killed twelve members of the special forces in Kandahar and three soldiers in Jalalabad as well. They were my close friends. I was in touch with them. The Taliban took them out of their homes and shot them.”

The BBC was not able to independently confirm the killings,

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