Taliban call to limit civilian kills ‘hypocritical’
KABUL: Human rights group Amnesty International said on Wednesday that Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar’s call for fighters to reduce civilian casualties was “hypocritical”.
Amnesty said the statement issued in Omar’s name last week to mark the Muslim holiday of Eidul Azha was “more about propaganda and less about actually protecting civilians”.
There were two major attacks in Afghanistan during Eid, which were blamed on the Taliban and left many civilians dead.
The United Nations says the Taliban is responsible for the vast majority of civilian deaths in the ten-year Afghan war between Taliban-led insurgents and international and Afghan government forces.
“The Afghan people would welcome any genuine effort to reduce civilian casualties,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific director, in a statement issued on the organisation’s website.
“However, Mullah Omar’s message seems hypocritical, as it is more about propaganda and less about actually protecting civilians.
He suggests that the majority of civilian casualties are accidental and could be avoided if Afghans kept away from foreign troops.
“He doesn’t order his commanders to halt targeted assassinations, or stop using suicide bombers or improvised explosive devices in civilian areas.”
On Friday, the Taliban published a statement on their website attributed to Omar which called on fighters “to take every step to protect the lives and wealth of ordinary people”.
The statement warned of punishments under Islamic Sharia law for insurgents responsible for civilian deaths.
But on Sunday, a Taliban suicide bomber killed seven people returning from prayers at a mosque in the northern city of Baghlan.
And on Monday, nine civilians from one family plus two policemen were killed when a roadside bomb struck their vehicle in northwest Afghanistan.
The UN has said that the number of civilians killed in the Afghan war in the first half of this year rose 15 per cent to 1,462, with insurgents responsible for 80 per cent of the deaths.