TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -Investigators of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a fact-finding report published on Sunday that they had “verified allegations” of at least 36 deaths in the Shia-majority village of Mirza Olang in Sayad district of the northern province of Sar-e Pul.
“These killings, corroborated by multiple credible sources, constitute violations of international humanitarian law and may amount to war crimes,” UNAMA said in its report.
Fierce fighting began in the area on August 3, when militants, reportedly including foreign nationals, seized a checkpoint manned by local police. Two days later, they entered the village, and according to provincial officials, killed civilians in “a brutal, inhumane way.”
The militants set fire to several mosques, torched at least 30 houses, beheaded a number of villagers and shot dozens of others dead, officials said.
Following the civilian deaths, Taliban said in a statement that they had gained control of the village, but dismissed reports of the massacre, calling it “hollow propaganda by the enemy.”
The report added that more than half of the killings occurred on August 5, when hundreds of families tried to flee the militant-held Mirza Olang.
At the time, Afghan officials announced that over 60 people had lost their lives in the brutal killing carried out by Taliban and Daesh in a rare joint operation between the two rival terrorist groups.
Taking advantage of the chaos, the Daesh Takfiri group, which is mainly based in the Middle East, has managed to establish some footholds in Afghanistan, trying to recruit from Afghan Taliban defectors.
In a statement, Taliban rejected the UN report, claiming that it contained “baseless allegations” and “false claims.” Last week, however, Daesh said in a statement that it had killed some 54 Shia Muslims in the ill-fated village.
Taliban militants were removed from power following the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan, but they have stepped up activities in recent months, attempting to overrun several regions. During the past 16 years, the militants have been conducting terrorist attacks across the country, killing and displacing civilians.
Many parts of Afghanistan remain plagued by militancy despite the presence of foreign troops.