US, UK embassies in Afghanistan accuse Taliban of war crimes

KABUL (Agencies): The U.S. and British embassies in Kabul said on Monday the insurgent Taliban may have committed war crimes in southern Afghanistan by carrying out revenge murders of civilians, a charge denied by the insurgents.

Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban negotiating team member based in Doha, told Reuters that tweets containing the accusations were “baseless reports.”

The Taliban denies the US accusations of “massacre” of civilians in Kandahar province and invites human rights activists and the media to investigate, a spokesman for the movement, Zabiullah Mujahid, told RIA Novosti.

The Taliban deny this claim. “We also call on human rights defenders and the media to come and investigate on the spot. We are indifferent to American Twitter messages. They should know their business and focus on their departure, and not engage in unnecessary conversations and accusations,” Mujahid said.

The U.S. Embassy in the capital Kabul tweeted a statement accusing the Taliban of killing dozens of civilians in the area of Spin Boldak in southern Kandahar province.

The statement was also tweeted by the British embassy.

“These murders could constitute war crimes; they must be investigated & those Taliban fighters or commanders responsible held accountable,” the U.S. Embassy tweeted.

In a second tweet, it said: “The Taliban’s leadership must be held responsible for the crimes of their fighters. If you cannot control your fighters now, you have no business in governance later.”

The tweets, accompanied by calls for a ceasefire, stepped up the United States’ public criticism of the group as U.S. troops withdraw and the Taliban goes on the offensive.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week that Afghanistan would become a ‘pariah state’ if any future Taliban rule in Afghanistan resulted in atrocities against civilians.

The insurgents gained control last month of the strategic area of Spin Boldak, which lies at a border and trade crossing with Pakistan, and heavy fighting has taken place since as Afghan forces try to recapture the area.

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