The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released on Sunday the initial findings of its human rights fact-finding probe into the August attack on Mirza Olang village in Sayyad district of northern Sari Pul province.
“UNAMA verified allegations that Taliban and local self-proclaimed Islamic State (Daesh) fighters killed at least 36 persons, including civilians and person hors de combat (out of action) during the attack on Mirza Olang. At least half of the killings took place on Saturday 5 August when Anti-Government Elements stopped families trying to escape the village, separated women and young children, and killed at least 18 people, both civilians and Pro-Government Militia who were hors de combat at the time of their killing.
Others, including one woman, were reportedly shot while they tried to escape from the village,” UNAMA said in the statement.
“I condemn this blatant targeting of civilians and persons hors de combat in clear violation of international law,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. “The perpetrators of these killings and crimes must be held accountable.”
The statement said that with regard to allegations of beheadings, UNAMA found no evidence to substantiate such claims. The human rights team through their interviews with witnesses and officials were also unable to verify other claims about abductions of women and sexual violence. Further investigations by competent authorities are required into the allegations of sectarian hatred as a factor in the killings in Mirza Olang, whose residents are mainly Shi’a Muslims.
The Mission welcomes the appointment of a senior team from the Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Interior to investigate the attack.
UNAMA’s report makes recommendations to Anti-Government Elements, including that they immediately cease the deliberate targeting of civilians. The report also encourages prompt, impartial and transparent investigations of the attack and killings in Mirza Olang, and to ensure accountability for perpetrators and appropriate redress for the victims.
Local officials confirmed that hundreds of families have been displaced from Mirza Olang valley following of the attack - most fled to capital of the province.
The security forces cleared the valley five days after the attack but insurgents reportedly regained control of the area a day after the operation.