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UNAMA’s finding on Mirza-Olang mass killing

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AT-KABUL: The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released Sunday the initial findings of its human rights fact-finding into the 3 to 5 August attack on Mirza Olang village in Sayyad district of Sari Pul province.

The UNAMA verified allegations that Taliban and local self-proclaimed Islamic State fighters killed at least 36 persons including civilians and person hors de combat, during the attack on the village.

At least half of the killings took place on Saturday August 5th when the anti-government elements stopped families trying to escape the village, separated women and children, and killed at least 18 people, both civilians and pro-government militias who were hors de combat at the time of their killing. Others, including one woman, were reportedly shot while they tried to escape from the village.

“I condemn this blatant targeting of civilians and persons hors de combat in clear violation of international law,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. “The perpetrators of these killings and crimes must be held accountable.”

With regard to allegations of beheadings, UNAMA found no evidence to substantiate such claims. The human rights team through their interviews with witnesses and officials were also unable to verify other claims about abductions of women and sexual violence. Further investigations by competent authorities are required into the allegations of sectarian hatred as a factor in the killings in Mirza Olang, whose residents are mainly Shiite Muslims.

The Mission welcomes the appointment of a senior team from the Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Interior to investigate the attack.

UNAMA’s report makes recommendations to Anti-Government Elements, including that they immediately cease the deliberate targeting of civilians. The report also encourages prompt, impartial and transparent investigations of the attack and killings in Mirza Olang, and to ensure accountability for perpetrators and appropriate redress for the victims.