Embassies of both countries in Kabul allege Taliban carried revenge murders of dozens of civilians in southern Kandahar province – a charge insurgents deny as "baseless".

A convoy of Afghan Special Forces is seen during the rescue mission of a policeman besieged at a check post surrounded by Taliban, in Kandahar province on July 13, 2021.
A convoy of Afghan Special Forces is seen during the rescue mission of a policeman besieged at a check post surrounded by Taliban, in Kandahar province on July 13, 2021. (Reuters)

The US and British embassies in Kabul have said 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 news agency on Monday that tweets containing the accusations were "baseless reports."

The US 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 US 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."

Calls for ceasefire

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

US 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.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the Taliban fighters are responsible for most of the "outrageous and atrocious acts of violence" in Afghanistan.

"The world will not accept a government in Afghanistan that doesn't respect basic human rights," he said, referring to the prospects of the Taliban reimposing its rule by force or joining an interim power-sharing arrangement as part of a peace deal.

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.

Afghan forces claim killing hundreds of fighters

Meanwhile, Afghan forces on Monday claimed to have killed 455 Taliban fighters in counter-terrorism offensives.

They were killed in operations by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces in Nangarhar, Paktia, Paktika, Logar, Kandahar, Herat, Faryab, Jowzjan, Balkh, Samangan, Helmand, Takhar, Kunduz and Baghlan and Kapisa provinces during the last 24 hours, according to the Defence Ministry.

The war between the Taliban and Afghan forces has intensified as foreign troops withdraw from the war-torn country.

The Taliban fighters are now trying to seize provincial capitals such as Herat and Lashkargah, after taking smaller administrative districts in the past weeks.

READ MORE: Government forces combat Taliban incursions on key Afghan cities

Source: Reuters