Elite Taliban Special Forces in Night Raids on Former Security Forces Members

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New Delhi, November 30 (IANS): The Taliban intensified the search for former members of the Khost Protection Force (KPF), a special forces unit that had been founded and supported by the US Central Intelligence Agency.

A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report said that a civil society activist who documented the killings said: “The KPF are the primary target (of the Taliban). They are looking for them ”.

Despite Taliban denials, the nature of the killings indicates that local Taliban commanders carried out or ordered numerous executions or followed orders from senior commanders or the Taliban intelligence unit.

The elite Taliban special forces known as sara kheta (“red unit”), highly trained commandos organized on a provincial base, were also reportedly tasked with searching for former members of the security forces during night raids. The Sara Kheta are believed to be responsible for the Taliban’s most successful operations against the ANSF in recent years.

In some provinces, Taliban commanders have said they have lists of people – written or communicated orally – who have committed acts that the Taliban deem “unforgivable” and would be targeted.

The pattern of killings has spread terror across Afghanistan, as no one associated with the former government can feel safe from having escaped the threat of retaliation.

Ghani’s government collapsed so quickly that documents relating to the security forces and those who cooperated with them were left behind. When the Taliban forces entered the offices of the former intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security and other government offices, they were able to obtain not only data on the employees, but also information on those who could have served as informants.

Many of those killed were clearly targeted because of their role in the previous government.

Other people targeted across Afghanistan included members of the NDS, including intelligence personnel, heads of detention centers and members of special strike forces such as “zero units”.

On August 13, the day the Taliban forces took control of Kandahar, they captured and killed three officers from the NDS 03 unit, according to former colleagues who saw the bodies.

“Zamaryali”, a former member of Force 03, said: “They were telling me not to go out after the government fell. Suddenly their phones were turned off. I went to their place. They had all been killed by the Taliban, their families told me. “

Other people targeted were members of militias supported by the former government, in particular the Afghan Local Police (ALP), according to HRW.

A resident of Kandahar said: “The Taliban have not forgiven many PLA commanders. Right now, they’re looking for them.

A Taliban commander in Ghazni said that some members of the PLA and other militias “cannot be forgiven because they have committed so many atrocities”. Because many people joined the PLA from their own communities, the Taliban also sees them as a greater threat compared to former ANSF members deployed locally who were outsiders to the community.

At the local level, many Taliban fighters and former ANSF members come from the same communities and know each other. As a result, personal rivalries and grievances played into some of the murders. Many are said to have been commanded by the Taliban’s delgai (“small group”) units, lower-level commanders who often have first-hand knowledge of local political dynamics and are able to identify and target individuals.

Taliban forces executed former members of the local paramilitary forces operating under the auspices of the ANSF, known by various names, such as arbaki or patsun kawanki (“uprising forces”). Human Rights Watch is aware of at least one case in which the Taliban executed former militia members detained in groups of 6 to 10. Like the local Afghan police, these militia forces have long won the enmity of the Taliban forces. in their districts because of their abuse. against communities perceived to support the Taliban or because they were rivals in exploiting these communities, and sometimes both.

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