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AsiaCurrent

CIA-backed forces in Afghanistan accused of committing possible war crimes

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AsiaCurrent

CIA-backed forces in Afghanistan accused of committing possible war crimes

One incident saw the same CIA-backed Afghan forces attacking a medical clinic, killing four of the innocent staff members on the spot. No one has been held to account for these killings.

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One incident saw the same CIA-backed Afghan forces attacking a medical clinic, killing four of the innocent staff members on the spot. No one has been held to account for these killings.

According to a new report by Human Rights Watch, CIA-backed forces in Afghanistan have been carrying out summary executions, kidnappings, and attacks on healthcare facilities; all amounting to possible war crimes. Identifying at least 14 different incidents in the last two years, HRW has called upon both the US and Afghan governments to conduct investigations into the conduct of these CIA-backed Afghan forces.

Working with Afghan human rights groups as well as conducting interviews across nine different provinces, HRW has found that the CIA is almost solely responsible for counter-insurgency operations that have targeted and killed innocent civilians.

Patricia Gossman, the associate Asia director and author of the HRW report, stated:

In ramping up operations against the Taliban, the CIA has enabled abusive Afghan forces to commit atrocities including extrajudicial executions and disappearances. In case after case, these forces have simply shot people in their custody and consigned entire communities to the terror of abusive night raids and indiscriminate airstrikes.”

In one particular incident, the CIA-backed Afghan forces are said to have attacked a medical clinic, killing four of the innocent staff members on the spot. No one has been held to account for these killings.

Another incident occurred in Paktia province, when a paramilitary unit killed at least 8 men who were simply visiting their families for Eid holidays. Witnesses claim there was no warning, with those killed including a 60 year old tribal elder who was shot in the eye and a 20 year old student who was shot in the mouth. In Nangarhar province, only a month before the incident in Paktia, the same CIA-backed forces raided a home and immediately shot dead five family members, which included an elderly woman and a small child.

HRW has documented these night raids, which can amount to acts of war crimes, in the provinces of Ghazni, Helmand, Kabul, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Paktia, Uruzgan, Wardak, and Zabul. These night raids have been part of the CIA’s counter-terrorism strategy in place since 2001, where they train, recruit, and equip Afghan paramilitary forces in the fight against the Taliban. Often conducting these attacks in rural or poorer areas where the Taliban supposedly have a stronghold, these raids indiscriminately kill and target civilians without establishing who is or isn’t part of the Taliban.

One resident in Wardak province told HRW:

[The paramilitary forces] destroyed the gate to our compound with an explosive device. They killed one of my sons at the back of our home and took the other with them…the forces accused us, ‘Why are you feeding the Taliban?’, but the Taliban come asking for food. If you don’t feed them, then they harass you.”

Calling on an immediate investigation into these possible war crimes by both the Afghan and US governments, HRW has highlighted the horrifying results of the indiscriminate “war on terror” that consistently kills and terrorizes innocent civilians across the country. As the innocent continue to be targeted in a war that oppresses them from both sides, those responsible for these atrocious war crimes must be held accountable.

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