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Afghanistan - Attack on civilians must be fully investigated

    August 28, 2012

    Amnesty International condemns the brutal killing of some 17 people who took part in a music party in Musa Qala district of Helmand province on Sunday night 26 August. According to reports there were two or three women among the dead; some of the victims were shot dead and others were beheaded.

    The Afghan government accused the Taleban of the act and stated that the area where the incident happened was under the control of the Taleban. However, the Taleban has not claimed responsibility for the attack.

    Amnesty International has so far been unable to verify independently the government’s claim or the circumstances surrounding the incident. However, it appears from the reports that none of the victims were actively engaged in fighting, which makes their killing a war crime - if carried out by a party to the armed conflict in Afghanistan.

    Amnesty International repeats its call on all parties to the armed conflict in Afghanistan, including the Afghan government, international forces, Taleban and other insurgent groups to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law: they must never single out civilians for attack and must at all times protect them from harm.

    Amnesty International welcomes the Afghan president’s statement that a “full investigation into the incident” is to be launched and calls on the Afghan government to ensure that the investigation is impartial, independent, professional and effective. Those suspected of involvement in the killings must be brought to trial in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness and without imposing the death penalty.

    Amnesty International calls upon the Taleban to fully cooperate with the investigation.

    Background

    In June 2012 Taleban forces attacked the Spozhmay Hotel in Kabul where locals were having a music party, killing 15 people, mostly civilians. The Taleban justified the attack on the hotel by claiming that the hotel was hosting some “immoral” parties and events. Under the Taleban-led regime in Afghanistan between 1996-2001, the Taleban government prohibited the playing of music among other acts of entertainments, and severely punished those who were listening to music whether privately or publicly.

    John Tackaberry,
    Media Relations,
    Amnesty International Canada
    613-744-7667, ext 236

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