The BBC found that at least 20 civilians were killed in Afghanistan’s Panjshir province, where fighting had raged between the Taliban and opposition forces.
Communications have been cut in the region, making reporting difficult, but the BBC has evidence of killings committed by the Taliban, despite promises of amnesty and peace made by the group that now controls Afghanistan.
BBC footage of a dusty road in Panjshir shows a man wearing military gear surrounded by Taliban fighters. It is possible to hear gunshots and then it falls to the ground.
It is unclear whether the dead man was military — combat uniforms are common in the region. In the video, one person insists that it was a civilian.
The BBC found that there were at least 20 such deaths in Panjshir. One of the victims was a shopkeeper and father of two named Abdul Sami.
Local sources said the man did not want to flee when the Taliban began to advance in the region. He said, according to sources: “I’m just a poor shopkeeper and I have nothing to do with the war.”
But he was arrested and charged with selling cell phone chips to resistance fighters. Days later, his body was dumped near his house. Witnesses who saw his body said he showed signs of torture.
When the Taliban took power last month, only one region managed to resist.
The Panjshir Valley has long been a focal point of resistance in Afghanistan. Under the command of opposition commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, the region has in the past resisted both Soviet and Taliban forces. Mountain peaks surround the valley, making it difficult for anyone trying to capture it.
Massoud’s son Ahmad led the resistance against the Taliban the second time they took control of Afghanistan, but last week the militant group declared victory in the valley, posting images of its fighters raising their flag.
Resistance forces pledged to continue fighting, with Ahmad Massoud calling for a “national uprising” against the Taliban.
Attention is now turning to what will happen in Panjshir, as in other parts of Afghanistan, with the Taliban back in charge.
When the Taliban entered the valley, the group said that local residents could continue with their normal lives.
“People must leave, continue with their daily activities,” said a spokesman, Malawi Abdullah Rahamani. “If they are shopkeepers, they can go to their stores. If they are farmers, they can go to their farms. We are here to protect them, protect their lives and their families.”
But instead, video footage shot in the region shows empty markets. People have been trying to flee, with long lines of vehicles forming in the valley.
There were also warnings about shortages of food and medicine.
The Taleban denied having killed civilians. But the reports released by the BBC came after news of a massacre of members of the Hazara minority and the murder of a policewoman. It is yet another sign that the local reality is completely different from the promises made by the Taleban that there would be no revenge.
“These kinds of reports seem to follow a pattern that we’ve documented across Afghanistan,” said Patricia Grossman of the non-governmental human rights organization Human Rights Watch.
“While the Taliban occupied Kabul in July and August, we received similar reports and were able to document summary executions of former security officials, former government officials and civilians, often out of revenge. This seems to be the pattern.”
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