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UN: Afghanistan village attacks 'may amount to war crimes'

[JURIST] The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) [official website] released a special report [text] on Sunday detailing the human rights violations committed during attacks on the Mirza Olang village earlier this month. During the three-day event, Taliban and local Islamic State (IS) fighters reportedly killed [press release] at least 36 people in the predominantly Shi'ite Muslim village. Those killed included both civilians and members of a pro-government militia who were unarmed prior to execution. While UNAMA verified the killings and the separation of women and children, it could not verify other claims of beheadings, abductions of women, or sexual assault. Further investigations are required to ascertain whether the attacks amounted to sectarian violence. According to the report, "These killings, corroborated by multiple credible sources, constitute violations of international humanitarian law and may amount to war crimes." The Taliban has since rejected [VOA report] the report's claims and denied the involvement of IS fighters.

Civilian casualties continue to be a primary issue in the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. Last month, UNAMA released a report [JURIST report] condemning an increase in civilian deaths in Afghanistan during the first half of 2017. In February at least 20 people were reported to have been killed and 41 injured following a terrorist attack [JURIST report] at the Supreme Court in Kabul, Afghanistan. In February of last year UN reported [JURIST report] that civilian casualties in Afghanistan had reached a record high 11,000 in 2015. In June of last year, three Taliban gunmen attacked [JURIST report] a court building in eastern Afghanistan, killing seven people including a newly appointed chief prosecutor. In November 2015 the US Department of Defense and Pentagon officials completed their investigation [JURIST report] into the October 3 bombing of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, and announced [official statement] that it was an "avoidable accident caused primarily by human error."

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