A group of Afghan soldiers backed by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have been charged with killing civilians during a night raid and are responsible for the disappearance of a suspect, a human rights group said today.
The secret militia, whose support from the US has continued the tradition since the Soviet-Afghanistan war in the 1980s, has long been in the hunt for the Taliban and is seen as an important tool in the war against the rebels.
But their cruel tactics have long sparked controversy throughout Afghanistan.
In one report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) documented 14 cases from late 2017 to mid-2019 in which the CIA-backed group committed serious violations during a night-long raid as it did in southeastern Paktia where a semi-military unit killed 11 men including eight was in the house celebrating Eid (Muslims festival).
CIA refuted the HRW report, saying most of the allegations against the Afghan special forces were likely false or deliberately exaggerated.
In some cases, the raid, usually in the Taliban-controlled area, was accompanied by air raids that arbitrarily killed civilians, HRW said and at times, the army detained the male suspects and did not tell the family where they were being held.
According to data released this week by NATO, the US conducted 1,113 air raids and military attacks in September, a sharp increase compared to the previous month when US negotiations with the Taliban failed.
Night raids, where special forces blew doors and raided buildings, were popular tactics that combined elements of surprise, advanced weapons and night equipment to surprise the invaders.
“In enhancing operations against the Taliban, the CIA has allowed Afghan troops to commit murder including illegal and unidentified disappearances.
“In the sequel, the team easily shot the suspect in detention and carried out night raids and arbitrary air raids on the residents”, said report writer and associate director of Asia HRW Patricia Gossman.
Afghan authorities and US security forces have increased the use of semi-armed forces to combat the emergence of Taliban attacks on the country’s security forces.
CIA spokesman Timothy Barrett said the agency was conducting its global operations “in accordance with the law and the surveillance system”.
He blamed the Taliban for spreading misinformation and admitted insurgents did not operate under the same rules.
A United Nations (UN) report earlier this month found that a number of civilians were killed or unexpectedly injured in Afghanistan from July to September this year.
Of those, 1,174 were killed and 3,139 were injured from July 1 to September 30, representing a 42 percent increase over the same period last year.