43 civilians from Panjshir still in Taliban custody: Residents

At least 43 civilians have been arrested by the Taliban over the past four to five weeks in Abdullah Khil valley in Panjshir province but are still under custody and there is no news about them, relatives of the detainees and residents of the area said.

At least six residents of the area and relatives of those arrested confirmed the matter to Amu but requested not to be named over their safety.

“The Taliban arrested my cousin and brother after a clash (between Taliban and resistance front) in our area. We have no news about them so far,” said a resident of Panjshir.

Another resident said that at least three of his relatives are under Taliban custody and “they are tortured every day.”

A relative of Ahmadullah, a resident of Panjshir arrested by the Taliban, said he is 60 years old and due to his age, he cannot take part in fighting. However, he is still under Taliban custody, the resident said.

Weapons in exchange for freedom

Other relatives of those arrested accused the Taliban of taking ransom in exchange for the release of their family members.

“The Taliban arrested my brother. He is tortured every day. They ask for a firearm in exchange for the release of my brother,” said a resident.

Another source said his brother was released in exchange for a firearm after days of being in Taliban custody.

“They had arrested my brother. They asked for a weapon. I had to sell my cattle to buy a weapon and ensure the release of my brother,” said the resident.

“My brother-in-law was arrested a few days ago from his home. Some days later, they asked us to bring two firearms so that he is released,” said a resident of Panjshir.

Taliban has been accused of torture, killing and arrest of civilians in Panjshir, Baghlan, Sar-e-Pul and Kandahar but the group has rejected all findings and reports in this respect.

Analysts said that asking for ransom in exchange for the release of prisoners is an ethnic-oriented move by the Taliban.

“Taliban is not bound to any law… The torture of civilians by the Taliban is rooted in ethnic-oriented moves against non-Pashtun ethnic groups,” said Maruf Bayan, a military affairs analyst.

He added that the Taliban is creating horror among the people to stop them from speaking up against the group.

Tarana Adib, a civil society activist from Panjshir, said the Taliban has often “violated” human rights in Panjshir.

“The Taliban arrests civilians after each defeat by the resistance front to suppress resistance,” she said.

Taliban’s director of information and culture in Panjshir, Nusratullah Malikzada, did not comment on the matter despite repeated attempts by Amu reporter.

Previously, Amu reported about the arrest of civilians by the Taliban in Panjshir, Baghlan, Kapisa and Parwan provinces. In a recent incident, 17 civilians were arrested by the Taliban in Salang district in Parwan.

The United Nations office in Afghanistan on Tuesday, Oct. 4, said it has sent its political and human rights teams to Panjshir to underscore grave concerns regarding insecurity and “alleged serious rights abuses.”

UNAMA said the teams met with Taliban governor Mohammad Nasim Noori, adding that “accountability and safeguarding rights of all Afghans are key to peace.”