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Taliban expands intimidation efforts against civilians

Release No: UNRELEASED July 27, 2010 PRINT | E-MAIL

KABUL, Afghanistan (July 28, 2010) – According to detailed ISAF records and intelligence reports, Taliban intimidation and brutality toward the Afghan population increased markedly in recent weeks. 

Partnered Afghan National Security Forces and international forces actions continue to deny the insurgents any significant operational successes.

“ISAF’s information systems and operational reporting allow us to track detailed information regarding insurgent brutality and intimidation,” said German Army Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz, International Security Assistance Force spokesman.  “Several recent events show that the Taliban have abandoned any pretense of caring for Afghan civilians.  Their actions show they are willing to harm anyone to return to power.”

On July 23, Taliban insurgents bombed a mosque in Manduzai district of Khowst Province, wounding 19 Afghan civilians and killing a parliamentary candidate about to announce his candidacy for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

In recent days Taliban insurgents also abducted the Ghorand district attorney general and a parliamentary candidate from Herat Province, Arbab Mohammad Zahri.  Last week insurgents executed a district leader and member of the Kwajazal Tribal Leader Council in the Khas Uruzgan district of Uruzgan Province.

The Taliban have also issued “night letters” to about 50 tribal leaders around Kandahar telling them to leave their homes and move to Pakistan or face violent consequences from local Taliban fighters.

“As part of the Taliban’s continuing campaign of murder and intimidation, ISAF has learned that Taliban senior leadership has ordered the assassination of multiple tribal elders and elected officials in areas across Afghanistan,” Blotz said. “By attacking traditional leadership structures revered by the Afghan people, the Taliban demonstrate not only their brutality, but their malicious contempt for Afghan customs and the will of Afghans.”

A recently intercepted message from Mullah Omar provided guidance to Taliban members, ordering them to capture and kill any Afghan who is supporting or working for coalition forces or the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.  He also urged the murder of any Afghan women who are helping or providing information to Coalition forces or the government.

According to ISAF records for July 2010, Taliban insurgents have been responsible for at least 95 civilian deaths and the wounding of more than 235 people. 

On July 18, insurgents fired a mortar round at a large group of Afghan men, women and children gathered in northern Zabul Province as they waited for regularly-scheduled medical outreach to begin, wounding several people. 

“Intimidation from insurgents will not keep us from our efforts to protect and help the people of Afghanistan,” Blotz said.

Recently, local officials in Khas Uruzgan unveiled a plan to increase the number of Afghan National Police in their area. Elders have united and called for justice against the insurgents responsible for what they describe as “acts of violence against Muslims.”

“Rather than intimidating citizens, the murders and criminal acts of the Taliban are bringing citizens closer together,” Blotz said. “The actions of these local officials suggest that the Afghan people reject this violence and intimidation.  Insurgents are not breaking the will of ordinary Afghan citizens to bring peace and security to their villages and towns.”