Three Civilians Killed in Bamiyan Amid Taliban Leaders Conflict
Recently, three residents of the Saighan district in Bamiyan were reportedly shot and killed by unidentified armed individuals, who then disposed of their remains in a valley. Ahmad Assef and Mohammad Ghani, two brothers aged 19 to 23, and Karim, a 45-year-old male, are said to have been among them, according to reports from local sources. These individuals were residents of Khoshkdara village in Saighan district and worked in the coal mines of Dara-e-Soof district in Samangan province. Residents of the area discovered the bodies of these individuals blindfolded with their hands tied. According to the sources, the murders of these young people are attributed to disputes amongst regional Taliban leaders. These sources also allege that local Taliban leaders are attempting to create chaos, kill each other, and increase insecurity in order to fulfill their demands.
According to the research of Hasht-e-Subh, Mohammad Ghani and Ahmad Asef were siblings who were studying public administration and economics at Kabul University. The data suggests that Mohammad Ghani was a third-year economics student and that Mohammad Assef intended to start his studies in public administration in 2023 due to financial difficulties. Karim, who was a regular employee at a coal mine and the provider for his family, was also the third person to be killed in addition to the two brothers.
After months of strenuous work in the Dara-e-Soof coal mines, these three people received their wages from the employer and left the cramped, dark, and humid tunnels early in the morning more than nine days ago. In the afternoon, they traveled through the difficult roads to the market in the Bamiyan area of Kahmard. The three coworkers had a pleasant dinner, washed up in one of the hotels in the market, and then returned home. These coal miners thought they had toiled in the mines for months and had saved enough money for their families’ needs and for their own further education, but they were unaware of the terrible fate that awaited them.
After lunch, Mohammad Ghani, Karim, and Ahmad Assef decided to walk from the “Dandan Shakan” Kotel, which is located on the border of Saighan and Kahmard districts, to their house in Khoshkdara village. According to the findings of Hasht-e-Subh, the families of these three young men were in contact with them until noon on Friday, February 24th, and were informed of their arrival, but their lines of communication were cut off after 12:00 PM.
Despite the fact that the young workers did not return home on Friday, they were not heard from again for a few days. Three days later, Abdullah Begzad, a relative of one of the young people, posted a message on his Facebook page confirming their disappearance. Mr. Begzad’s missing person announcement included three contact details and the pictures of two of the missing people. Therefore, the audience is encouraged to call those numbers if they have any information regarding the whereabouts of the missing people, in order to alleviate the families’ worries.
In a conversation with Hasht-e-Subh, an anonymous resident of Saighan district, the inhabitants of Khoshkdara and Abbalaiee villages had a discussion with local Taliban officials regarding the disappearance of three young men. They also initiated a search effort. After days of searching, the locals of these villages reportedly found the bodies of the missing people, who had been shot and had their eyes covered, in one of the valleys near the Dandan Shekan area.
The source further states that, based on initial analysis, the youths were shot and bound after being apprehended by armed individuals on the Friday of the preceding week, following their consumption of lunch in the Kahmard district market. Subsequently, the remains of the youths were discarded into the valley.
For security reasons, two of the relatives of the three Saighan district residents, referred to in the report by Hasht–e–Subh as “Ali“ and “Ehsan“, have expressed shock at the kidnapping and shooting of Mohammad Ghani, Mohammad Asif, and Karim, as they had no animosity towards anyone. These individuals had no prior experience working for the government, being only employees and students. The local residents and the relatives have called upon the local Taliban leaders and human rights organizations to investigate the incident, identify the perpetrators, and take the necessary action against them.
A statement was released by exiled civil activists from Bamiyan province, expressing their concern about the rise in violence and the killing of innocent people in the province. They called for an end to these insecurities and denounced the shooting of three Saighan residents, demanding that the relevant international and national authorities take action. To date, no one or organization has claimed responsibility for the murder of these three Bamiyan residents.
The spokesperson for the Taliban governor in Bamiyan, Abdul Sabour Farzan Sighani, has confirmed the incident and stated that the governor has been actively working on the matter for four days. On Thursday, February 23, he personally went to Kahmard village and carried the dead remains of the three young men to their home. However, the Taliban governor‘s spokesman in Bamiyan has declined to provide any information regarding the identity of the perpetrators.
Are the Murders Committed by Bamiyan‘s Regional Taliban Leaders a Result of Disputes?
According to reliable sources who spoke with Hasht–e–Subh, three residents of Bamiyan‘s Saighan district were the victims of inter–group conflicts amongst local Taliban leaders in the province. It has been reported that since late fall of this year, the local Taliban authorities in Bamiyan have been divided into two distinct and hostile factions. The Taliban security commander for Bamiyan, Mawlawi Siddiqullah Shahin Musafir, is said to issue commands to the chiefs and officials, the majority of whom are of Tajik ethnicity and connected to the Haqqani network.
Differences between two groups of local Taliban officials in Bamiyan increased in the late autumn of this year after a number of chiefs, primarily of Tajik descent, were assassinated in the province due to prejudice and retaliatory behavior, according to at least three informed people who wished to remain anonymous in this report. The offices under their authority were relieved of their responsibilities with the help of the staff and clients, who were primarily Hazara and Shia. For example, the sources refer to Mawlawi Islamuddin Osmani and Salem Faizi as the former Taliban heads of education at Bamiyan University, who were removed in response to protests from the province‘s residents. The sources claim that Mullah Abdullah Sarhadi, the Taliban governor in Bamiyan, believes that his opposition faction is responsible for the removal of his supporters from significant government positions in Bamiyan. In order to remove Sarhadi from his position, a number of mullahs from the Kahmard, Saighan, and orders collaborated to reduce his power. They have complained to the ministries that are run by this group, but they have not received a satisfactory response.
According to a source, the opposition party at the border threatened to disrupt Bamiyan‘s security and become a foundation for the operations of the Islamic State group in the province if they were not given prominent government positions. This was after their attempts to have him removed had failed. There has not been any public reports of activity from Daesh in Bamiyan for a long time.
Three citizens of Saighan district were reportedly murdered near Dandanshekan in Kahmard district, and Mohammad Naeem Khadim, head of the Taliban nuclear energy department in Bamiyan, along with one of his staff members, were killed due to an internal conflict within the department. This indicates that the divisions among the Taliban have become more pronounced and taken on new forms. According to sources, the individuals who were shot in the nuclear energy department in Maidan Wardak province on Thursday morning, February 23, as a result of the conflict between the Taliban and the Bamiyan administration, were the department‘s head and his guards. It is believed that the opposing factions are attempting to undermine each other under the Taliban‘s leadership in order to gain an advantage by causing such disruption.
Bamiyan is still considered one of the most secure provinces in the nation. During the Republic period, the inhabitants of this province did not express any concerns about security as regular order was maintained. However, since the Taliban have come to power, the security of this province has been somewhat compromised. Complaints about the Taliban‘s discriminatory actions and the restrictions they have imposed on the locals have increased. Additionally, according to another report, the Taliban‘s top leaders in this province are becoming increasingly contentious with each other. Nevertheless, the local Taliban representatives in Bamiyan deny any differences and act as if there is no conflict among the Taliban leaders in Bamiyan province.