Teenager and Her Father Are Killed by Afghan Forces

Teenager and Her Father Are Killed by Afghan Forces

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Afghan government said on Saturday that it was investigating the fatal shootings by Afghan soldiers of a teenager and her father in Kandahar Province, amid complaints by residents that the security forces have for years been accused of extrajudicial killings and other abuses.

The girl, 17, was collecting vegetables for dinner from the fields near her house in Shah Wali Kot District in Kandahar when she was killed by soldiers, said Khalil Ahmad Mujahid, a member of Parliament from Kandahar.

“The family searched for the girl the whole night, and found her body in their lands the next day,” Mr. Mujahid said.

When her father carried her body to the gates of the army base in the village in southern Afghanistan the next day, he, too, ended up dead, officials said. Her relatives went to the base to protest and to seek an explanation, but soldiers inexplicably opened fire on them, and also wounded her uncle, Mr. Mujahid said.

It was not clear why the girl was shot. Officials have remained tight-lipped about even the most basic details, once again raising concerns about a pattern of lack of accountability after Afghan forces have been accused of abuses against civilians during the yearslong war.

A spokesman for Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry said it was looking into the episode and could not provide details. Bahir Ahmadi, a spokesman for the governor of Kandahar, said a delegation led by the chief of the Afghan Army, Gen. Bismillah Waziri, had arrived in Kandahar Province on Friday to investigate the shootings.

Local officials as well as rights campaigners struggled to pin down the exact details of the tragedy. It occurred in Kondelan, close to the front lines of fighting between the Taliban and the government forces. Phones rarely work there.

“There is only one military base of army; no other government presence in the area,” said Fazel Mohammad Gharib Shah, the district governor of Shah Wali Kot District.

With much of the attention focused on the Taliban’s atrocities, with large numbers of civilians being killed in the militants’ bombings, rights activists have repeatedly expressed concern about a simultaneous culture of impunity among Afghan forces.

The most frequent accusations have been against elite units of the country’s intelligence agency that are closely mentored by the Central Intelligence Agency. Their raids have frequently resulted in civilian deaths, causing protests and outrage. But relatives of the victims say they rarely get justice.

Mehrabuddin Suleymankhel, a relative of a family that lost four members, including a toddler, during a raid by the C.I.A.-backed units in eastern Khost Province 2018, said that not only has there been no accountability for that raid, but another family member has remained in the custody of the same forces for months now without an explanation.

Razo Khan, one of the brothers of the detained who has been in Kabul knocking on government doors for answers, has threatened to burn himself in protest if justice is not served.

Afghanistan’s new human rights chief, Shaharzad Akbar, has called for a renewed focus on justice for the victims of abuses from all sides of the war.

“The issue of justice doesn’t just relate to the Taliban,” Ms. Akbar, who was appointed as the chairwoman of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission last July, told a local newspaper.

“All sides, including the Taliban, need to be held accountable. For the Human Rights Commission, it makes no difference whether the civilians were victims of explosions and suicide bombings of the Taliban, or victims of American airstrikes and the special forces of the Afghan government. They are all victims, and their voices need to be heard.”

Mujib Mashal contributed reporting.

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