Taliban reject reports of killing Afghan civilians

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Spin Boldak, Afghanistan, Apr 18: Afghanistan's Taliban today rejected &13;as totally baseless a report by a US-based rights group that accused them of war &13;crimes for targeting civilians.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabullah Mujahid, &13;said the report released this week by Human Rights Watch was disinformation and &13;Western propaganda.

''The Taliban only target foreign and Afghan military &13;personnel and those who help them,'' Mujahid said by satellite telephone from an &13;undisclosed location.

Human Rights Watch said suicide bombings and other &13;insurgent attacks had risen dramatically since 2005, and the Taliban and other &13;insurgent groups killed almost 700 civilians last year.

More than 4,000 &13;people were killed last year as a resurgent Taliban stepped up attacks, &13;particularly in the south and east.

Afghan officials say about a quarter &13;of the dead were civilians.

Mujahid said foreign troops were killing &13;civilians: ''US-led coalition forces began the killing of &13;civilians''.

''They have killed thousands of civilians in their bombing &13;and operations in all areas of our country, but Human Rights Watch does not &13;watch those,'' he said.

Many Afghan civilians have been killed &13;accidentally in foreign military air strikes since US-led forces ousted the &13;Taliban in 2001. The government has repeatedly urged foreign forces to exercise &13;the utmost care.

Human Rights Watch has put out reports critical of &13;foreign troops over civilian casualties.

On Saturday, Afghanistan's &13;Independent Human Rights Commission issued a report saying US Marines broke the &13;law when they killed several civilians in apparently indiscriminate shooting in &13;Jalalabad after their convoy was bombed.

Foreign forces say the Taliban &13;often attack them from villages where civilians are present. They also say the &13;majority of victims of Taliban bomb attacks aimed at foreign or Afghan forces &13;are passers-by.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for a bomb attack in &13;the city of Kandahar yesterday that killed four Nepali contractors working for &13;the United Nations and their Afghan driver.

Mujahid said Human Rights &13;Watch and the United Nations were American puppets.

''The Taliban are &13;never involved in the killing of Afghan civilians. We're fighting for the &13;freedom of Afghanistan and we will continue our jihad (holy war) against &13;occupying foreign troops and their Afghan puppets,'' he said, referring to the &13;Western-backed government.


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