Afghanistan: ‘Reprehensible’ attacks underscore urgent need to protect civilians

The recent wave of attacks on civilians by the Taliban and other armed groups in Afghanistan are reprehensible acts which underscore the new Afghan government’s urgent responsibility to protect the right to life, Amnesty International said today.

The most recent assault, a suicide bombing at Isteqlal High School Theatre in Kabul on Thursday evening, killed one and injured around a dozen civilians who were watching a play. It added to the rising toll of lives lost and hundreds of injuries in armed attacks in different parts of the country in recent weeks. 

“Targeting civilians for attack is reprehensible and a clear violation of international humanitarian law, amounting to war crimes. It is crucial that those responsible are brought to justice,” said Horia Mosadiq, Afghanistan Researcher at Amnesty International.   

“One of the core responsibilities of the Afghan authorities is protecting civilians against such violent attacks. The onus is now on the new administration to bolster the security response and regain the trust of the Afghan people.” 

The assaults have become more frequent as the majority of international troops stationed in Afghanistan wind down their operations and prepare to pull out later this month. 

“The Taliban and other armed groups refer selectively to international humanitarian law (IHL) whenever it suits them. But the targets of the recent string of attacks show a clear and ongoing disregard for fundamental IHL rules that are binding on these groups,” said Horia Mosadiq 

Amnesty International has been calling on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the situation in Afghanistan for possible war crimes committed by all parties to the conflict. 

The organization is also calling on the United Nations to make sure that the protection of civilians and respect for IHL and international human rights law are high on the agenda in any possible future peace talks with the Taliban, among other human rights priorities.