Thousands Take To Kabul Streets To Protest Hazara Killings
Protests in Kabul
NEW DELHI: Thousands of people rallied outside the Afghan Presidential Palace to protest the recent killings targeting the Hazara community in the conflict torn country.
"Today they kill us, tomorrow they kill you," chanted the protesters as they carried coffins in the pouring rain. Some of the bodies had their throats slit.
The bodies were found over the weekend in southern Zabul province where fighting between rival Taliban factions has intensified in recent days. 56 Taliban fighters were killed as forces loyal to new leader, Mullah Mohammad Rasool clashed with those allied with Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.
(Image credit: BBC)
According to the governor of southern Zabul province, Anwar Ishaqzai, local fighters believed to be allied with the Islamic State -- a group that has targeted Hazaras in Afghanistan in the past -- joined the Taliban splinter group known as the High Council of Afghanistan Islamic Emirate. The spokesperson for the breakaway faction, Abdul Manan Niazi, however denied the link with the Islamic State. "We will never join them. Their ideologies are different; they come from a different background and a different history," he told Al Jazeera. "These are all false accusations. We can never ask for their support to fight our enemies or to re-establish Islamic rule."
The Taliban had in fact vocally criticised the killing of Hazaras by militants who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in early September. The Taliban called the killing an attempt to “breed fault lines.” The statement issued by the Taliban referred to the killing of 13 Hazaras after dragging them from their vehicles in the relatively calm northern Balkh province -- in a rare attack as attacks targeting minority groups are not characteristic of violence in Afghanistan.
(Image credit: Al Jazeera)
“These acts are being perpetrated to breed fault lines, intolerance and discrimination,” the Taliban said. “We strongly condemn this incident… (and) call on our nation to be vigilant of all enemy plots,” the statement added.
Attacks against Hazaras in Afghanistan are increasing. Officials say that the bodies found over the weekend -- four men, one woman and two girls -- were among dozens of Hazaras kidnapped in neighbouring Ghazni province earlier this year. The bodies were discovered by Taliban militants who handed them over to tribal elders on Saturday in Ghazni province. Officials blame the Islamic State for the abductions.
The Islamic State was the focus of the protests in Kabul, as demonstrators chanted "death to Islamic State.” The protests were joined by people of all communities -- Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek, and Hazara -- as they called attention to rising civilian casualties in Afghanistan.
(Image credit: AP)
"We want justice not just for them but for the thousands of other innocent people who are brutally killed this way, almost every day," protester Ismail Khanjar told Al Jazeera. "We don't care if they were Shia Muslims or not. For us they are human and they were killed in the most brutal way. What was their fault?"