Probe sought into mass grave found in Kandahar

The site of a mass grave in Kandahar. Sept. 2022.

A mass grave of at least 21 bodies has been found in Spin Boldak district in Kandahar province in the south of Afghanistan, sparking reactions at national and international levels.

Taliban spokesman in Kandahar, Ataullah Zaid, said the mass grave was found in Nawa village in Spin Boldak district.

He claimed those found in the mass grave were killed and buried in the area nine years ago when Gen. Abdul Raqi Achakzai was the police chief of the province.

Raziq was killed in a gunman attack in Kandahar in October 2018. He was famous for his harsh stance against the Taliban.

But the Taliban spokesman did not provide any evidence for his claim. He said the number of bodies buried in the mass grave is at least 21.

However, a former border force member in Spin Boldak, who wished not to be named in this report over security reasons, said the area where the mass grave was found is close to the border with Pakistan and that it was under Taliban control and the killings have been committed by the Taliban.

Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said the discovery of grave sites makes it all the more urgent that the Taliban “prevent acts of revenge.”

“As UN HRC discusses ways to support accountability in Afghanistan, vital that all alleged crimes be investigated as part of the process that leads to justice, according to international standards,” she said in a tweet on Sunday.

The UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, said that it is essential that these remains are not disturbed and damaged further pending forensic examination while being sensitive to the needs of families.

But the bodies found in the mass grave have already been buried by the Taliban, according to a spokesman.

Videos on social media show some men sitting near the bodies taken out of the mass grave, with one claiming that those buried have been when Gen. Raziq was the police chief.

Gen. Raziq was accused of torture of prisoners and owning a secret prison in Kandahar when he was the police chief of the province.

Many former members of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) were killed in Spin Boldak district in Kandahar when the Taliban captured the district in July last year.

Sources told Amu in August that at least 16 ANDSF members were killed and about 25 more were wounded in incidents involving gunmen attacks and arrests by armed men in Kandahar province from August 2021 to Feb. 2022.

Many of these killings happened in Spin Boldak district, according to Haji Mohammad Afghan, a tribal elder from the community, who lost his two young sons in the same incidents last year after the Taliban takeover.

Afghan said that dozens of other residents of the district were killed in similar incidents by the Taliban after the group captured Spin Boldak.