Afghan soldiers execute a villager suspected of aiding the Taliban by IED

Afghan soldiers executed a man suspected of belonging to the Taliban by making him sit on an improvised explosive device (IED) before it exploded. A video published on July 16 captured the scene in the southeastern part of the country. Afghan journalist Naseeb Zadran told JowharObservers that the extrajudicial killing is far from an isolated case and reflects the impunity enjoyed by the Afghan military.

Warning: This article contains violent images and descriptions that some readers may find disturbing.

About 12 seconds into the two and a half minute video posted on TikTok, we hear a gunshot, followed by a massive explosion 23 seconds later. A heavy cloud of gray smoke rises to the sky as some debris is thrown tens of meters away from the explosion.

The JowharObservers team has chosen not to publish this shocking video. This screenshot from the video shows dark objects flying from the site of the explosion. © Observers

Soldiers in uniforms of the Afghan army burst out in joyous cries, congratulating their commander on his “courage”. The person recording the video turns the camera to a body part that is on the side of the road, before moving on to another body part that is several meters away.

“Here is the motherfucker’s body, this will be the fate of these people,” said the soldier filming, referring to the Taliban, while a colleague tells him not to pick up.

This screenshot from the video, blurred by FRANCE 24, shows part of the victim’s body lying on the floor. © Observers

Before the video ends, the soldier turns the camera to the alleged commander, who says, “Anyone who destroys national properties or facilities shares the same fate.”

Where and when did the incident take place?

Thanks to information and additional videos shared by Afghan journalist Naseeb Zadran, the JowharObservers team was able to verify and geolocate this video.

The incident took place on July 8 on NH19 road, about 30 kilometers south of the city of Sharan, the capital of Paktika province. The Afghan army and the Taliban have been embroiled for weeks in a fierce conflict in this region of southeastern Afghanistan, with numerous casualties on both sides, including army commanders and local officials.

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A building that appears in the background of the video is a restaurant along NH19. The same restaurant appears in Google Street View images from 2019, when it got a different color.

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Local residents confirm that the execution took place on July 8. Using visible shadows and the angle of the sun in the video, the JowharObservers team was able to estimate that the incident likely took place between 9 and 10 a.m. on this day.

Victim beaten by anti-Taliban militia before being handed over to army

The victim of this execution was called Barakatullah, according to Naseeb Zadran who spoke to the locals. The man was severely beaten by Afghan police and anti-Taliban militias before being handed over to Afghan soldiers who forced him to sit on the IED.

Zadran also received another 30-second video of dozens of civilians beating the victim, beating him with sticks and kicking him to the ground as soldiers watched. The army commander who appeared in the first video is also visible in this scene.

Before the incident, Barakatullah was beaten by a group of men, who according to journalist Naseeb Zadran are anti-Taliban militias and Afghan police. Several soldiers, as well as the army commander seen in the first video, watch the scene. © Observers ‘If you ask a villager, they will tell you that their houses were built by Barakatullah’

Naseeb Zadran recorded a short interview with Miakhan, allegedly the victim’s father, which he posted on Twitter. In the video, he explains in Pashto, a language of Afghanistan:

He was a poor worker. He was a construction worker in the area of ​​Sar Hawza. All the villagers know him. If you ask a villager, they will tell you that their houses were built by Barakatullah.

Afghan National Army discovered an IED under a bridge [Editor’s note: seen in the video] in the Parao area. Barakatullah happened to cross the road there.

The soldiers and militia thought he was by the Taliban. was sent [to detonate the IED] and they harassed him and beat him cruelly. After they beat him up, he was forced to sit on the IED they excavated and they detonated it as he was right above it.

The JowharObservers team was unable to independently verify this man’s testimony, nor whether he is indeed the victim’s father.

‘Terrorist Taliban propaganda,’ says Afghan Defense Ministry

Local residents were able to identify the Afghan army commander featured in the video as Sergeant Nasratullah Zadran, according to Naseeb Zadran and confirmed by FRANCE 24.

Fawad Aman, a spokesman for the Afghan defense ministry contacted by the JowharObservers team, denied that the incident took place. He called the video “Terrorist Taliban propaganda” and said that “Afghan army soldiers are the real and honest children of Afghanistan. [who] fight and die every day for the Afghan people.”

The victim’s family has filed a lawsuit against the Afghan military, but they are not optimistic about the outcome, according to Naseeb Zadran.

‘Most victims in these rural areas don’t know how to speak out’

This example of extrajudicial killing is not an isolated one, said Naseeb Zadran:

I have received videos of bodies being burned by the Afghan military, but these stories are not making their way into the Afghan media. Most Afghan media companies are less interested in covering the violence of the military, they only deal with one side of the story: what the Taliban are doing. If some journalists dare to investigate, Afghan intelligence will arrest them.

Unfortunately, this type of violence is not unprecedented or even rare. In addition, most victims in these rural areas are not educated, have no idea of ​​their rights and do not know how to express themselves.

The problem in the Afghan military is primarily because there is no proper system of checks and balances in recruiting. There are many powerful ethnic groups and tribes represented in the military such as Abdul Raziq in Qandahar and Aziz Ullah Karwan in Paktik [Editor’s note: Both men have been killed but their tribal groups are still active]. The government is unwilling to control them and question their activities.

The second problem is that no one in the military has ever been punished by the courts for murdering a civilian before, so the security forces are taking advantage of this lack of will.

Third, not only Afghans but also NATO troops have committed similar crimes. Australian troops killed 37 civilians in Uruzgan province [Editor’s note: A four-year inquiry found “credible evidence” of 37 cases of unlawful killing], so the Afghan military learns from them and dares to do the same.

Over the past two months, Taliban militants have been gaining ground and occupying more and more regions in Afghanistan. The extremist group claims they control more than 85 percent of the country, including strategic posts on the border with Iran, earning more than $20 million a month in customs duties.

However, the government still controls the more populous regions of Afghanistan, accounting for more than 50 percent of the population, according to estimates.

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