The Afghan Ministry of Interior (MoI) on Thursday released the confessions of at least nine people who were allegedly involved in a series of targeted assassinations, including the assassination of former TOLOnews presenter Yama Siawash and Mahmoud Kochai, the former chief of PD5 of Kabul.
Based on the confessions, a mosque Imam, a teacher of a religious seminary and a number of students of a religious madarasa are among the suspects who have confessed to have played a role in several explosions and assassination of several military personnel and civilians.
The Interior Ministry said that some of the suspects' colleagues have not been arrested so far.
The suspects were nabbed in Kabul, Logar and Laghman provinces.
Abdul Saboor, the ringleader of the group, is also among those arrested and is a native of Logar province.
Abdul Saboor in his confession says that he had plotted the killing of Yama Siawash and police chief of PD5 in Kabul.
“A series of 14 explosions and 5 assassinations were conducted which also included the assassination of Yama Siawash, the police chief of PD5, two rangers vehicles in Khair Khana—Qari Mahaz was also associated and we conducted the job,” said Abdul Saboor, accused of the targeted killing.
“They are Taliban, although they do not claim it directly, but the Taliban are involved,” said Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the MoI.
Abdul Rahman is another member of the team who was recruiting youths to use them for targeted killing.
“I introduced them to Qari Abdul Shakoor to accomplish the assassinations and explosions,” said Abdul Rahman, a suspect.
“We blew up the vehicle of an attorney including a government vehicle,” said Hekmatullah, a suspect.
“We conducted four explosions, one myself and the rest were conducted by Qari Ilyas, Qari Naser and Abdul Rahman,” said Mahmoud, a suspect.
“There were two rangers, one belonged to Khan Pacha,” said Ewaz, a suspect.
Siawash’s father said: “Show me the car which had GPS, but it was sent to the customs instead of the criminal technical department.”
The bigger picture:
First Vice President Amrullah Saleh on Wednesday said that security forces had arrested an "11-member Taliban cell responsible for numerous bombings," including the murder of former Afghan journalist Yama Siawash.
“It all started with a tip from an informant that enabled the Kabul police department to identify, locate and apprehend a 11-member Talib terror cell responsible for numerous bombings including the murder of iconic Yama Siawash on Nov 7. Dozens of sticky bombs and IEDs found in their caches,” Saleh tweeted.
“We have invited media community, human rights organizations, civil society activists and advocacy groups to see the files, interview the terrorists and fulfill the wish of the grieving families,” he said.
But, the family of former TOLOnews presenter Yama Siawash on Wednesday rejected First Vice President Amrullah Saleh’s claim that security forces have arrested an "11-member Taliban cell responsible for numerous bombings" including the murder of former Afghan journalist Yama Siawash.
“It all started with a tip from an informant and enabled the Kabul police department to identify, locate and apprehend an 11-member Talib terror cell responsible for numerous bombings including the murder of iconic Yama Siawash on Nov 7. Dozens of sticky bombs and IEDs were found in their caches,” Saleh tweeted.
Siawash, who worked as a media adviser at the Central Bank and was a former TOLOnews’ presenter, Hamdullah Anas, the deputy head of the Central Bank office, and Aminullah Rezadee, a driver at the bank, were killed in the explosion that targeted their vehicle in Makrorayan-e-Char area in downtown Kabul on November 7, 2020.
According to a recent report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, at least 11 human rights defenders and media workers were killed in targeted attacks in Afghanistan from September 2020 through to January 31, 2021.
On April 2, Human Rights Watch accused the Taliban of "deliberately targeting journalists and other media workers, including women," in Afghanistan, saying that such attacks and threats have increased sharply since the start of the talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha.
The watchdog says these attacks increase concerns about preserving freedom of expression and the media in any peace settlement.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) says it has found that “the Taliban commanders and fighters have engaged in a pattern of threats, intimidation, and violence against members of the media in areas where the Taliban have significant influence, as well as in Kabul.”