Washington: Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday that the Taliban are forcing people in northern Afghanistan to leave their homes and looting and burning some homes as they attack government forces.
The rights group said residents of Bagh-e Sherkat in Kunduz province reported that in late June the insurgents swept in and used loudspeakers to give people two hours to evacuate their homes “for their own safety.”
Human Rights Watch said residents interviewed by phone in the past week said some 600 families were forced to leave the town to distant locations.
The resident said that the Taliban threatened people who had supported the Afghan government, and that Taliban fighters looted and burned homes.
“The Taliban s retaliatory attacks against civilians deemed to have supported the government are an ominous warning about the risk of future atrocities,” said HRW associate director Patricia Gossman.
“The Taliban leadership has the power to stop these abuses by their forces but haven t shown that they are willing to do so,” she said.
Human Rights Watch said it was unable to confirm the villagers’ claims that the Taliban shot and killed a local shopkeeper and a former local militia.
A 45-year-old widow told them that Taliban fighters forced her to leave.
“They said I had to leave because we helped the heretics. I lived in that village for 20 years. Now I live in a tent in Faizabad,” she said, according to a human rights organization.
With the almost complete withdrawal of US and NATO forces, the Taliban’s nationwide sweeping pace has accelerated, and the Afghan National Security Forces can basically only make a living on their own.
The last batch of US troops will leave in late August.
The insurgents particularly controlled many rural areas in the north, trying to encircle the provincial capital and control the main roads.
On Wednesday, they launched a major attack on Qala-i-Naw, the capital of Badghis Province in the west.
“The enemy has entered the city and all areas have fallen,” Hesamuddin Shams, the governor of Badghis, told reporters in a text message, while insisting on defending the city.