Amnesty said the incident was a "horrifying indicator" of Taliban rule as witnesses have given harrowing accounts of the killings, which took place in early July in Ghazni province.

Taliban fighters massacred nine ethnic Hazara men after taking control of Afghanistan’s Ghazni province last month, Amnesty International said in a new report, citing dozens of eyewitness accounts.

Witnesses in the  report published on Wednesday gave harrowing accounts of the killings, which took place in early July in Ghazni province.

The Hazara community is Afghanistan's third largest ethnic group.

They mainly practice Shia Islam and have a long history of being persecuted by the Taliban since the armed group’s emergence in the 1990s.

The killings took place between 4-6 July in the village of Mundarakht, Malistan district.

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"Six of the men were shot and three were tortured to death, including one man who was strangled with his own scarf and had his arm muscles sliced off," the report said.

Since taking over the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday, the Taliban have sought to portray themselves as more moderate than when they imposed a strict form of Islamic rule in the late 1990s.

But Amnesty said the incident is a "horrifying indicator" of Taliban rule.

"The cold-blooded brutality of these killings is a reminder of the Taliban’s past record, and a horrifying indicator of what Taliban rule may bring," Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said.

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"These targeted killings are proof that ethnic and religious minorities remain at particular risk under Taliban rule in Afghanistan."

'Shot him, pulled his hair'

Amnesty International interviewed eyewitnesses and reviewed photographic evidence of the killings in Mundarakht village.

When fighting intensified on 3 July 2021 in Ghazni province between Afghan government forces and the Taliban, villagers told Amnesty International that they fled into the mountains to traditional iloks, their summer grazing land, where they have basic shelters.

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The next morning, 4 July, five men and four women returned to the village to gather supplies but their homes were looted and  Taliban fighters were waiting for them.

Wahed Qaraman, 45, was taken from his home by Taliban fighters who broke his legs and arms, shot him in the right leg, pulled his hair out, and beat his face with a blunt object, the report said.

Jaffar Rahimi, 63, was beaten and then strangled to death with his own scarf, after being accused of working for the Afghan government. 

Three people involved in the burial of Rahimi said that his muscles of his arms had been carved off.

“We asked the Taliban why they did this, and they told us, 'When it is the time of conflict, everyone dies, it doesn’t matter if you have guns or not. It is the time of war',” an eyewitness, who assisted with the burials, told Amnesty International.

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The Taliban are known for their harsh rule of Afghanistan from 1996-2001, which saw women and ethnic minorities deprived of their rights, before they were ousted by a US-led coalition in 2001.

The Taliban made a string of assurances to Afghans and the world during the first press conference following its takeover of Kabul.

The armed group promised there will be no revenge attacks on anyone who worked or fought with the US and that it would not deprive women and minorities of their basic rights.

But Afghans have told TRT World that it would take "a lot of time" for them to trust the armed group.

On Thursday, the Taliban reportedly fired into the air to disperse the crowds and break up the protest on the anniversary of the day of Afghanistan's independence from British control in 1919 against the Taliban.

The videos obtained and verified by TRT World show Taliban fighters kicking and whipping protesters as well as local Afghan journalists.

A UN report this week has warned that the Taliban have been going from door-to-door to search for people who worked for NATO forces or the previous Afghan government. 

Source: TRT World