KABUL: The Taliban vowed on Thursday to target government employees and other Afghan civilians they consider linked to the US-led coalition despite a warning from the United Nations that such killings may violate international law.
Zabiullah Mujahid rejected an annual report issued by the UN Mission in Afghanistan that accused the Taliban of targeting civilians and blamed the insurgency for the overwhelming majority of deaths in its war against President Hamid Karzai’s government and the foreign military coalition.
“Regretfully the report published by the head of the UNAMA in Kabul, about the civilian casualties in the country, does not bear impartiality,” Mujahid said in the email, written in English.
The report, issued earlier in the week, found that 2,754 civilians were killed in 2012, a 12 per cent decrease from 3,131 in the same period a year earlier. It was the first time in six years that the civilian death toll dropped.
It said the Taliban and other insurgents were responsible for 81 per cent of the civilian casualties last year.
It said so-called anti-government elements killed 2,179 civilians and wounded 3,952 — a 9 per cent increase in such casualties from 2011.
Of those, 698 were killed in targeted attacks, often against government employees. That was up from 512 in 2011.
Chief UN envoy Jan Kubis welcomed the decline in casualties but warned militants who target civilians will face justice.
Mujahid retorted that the Taliban do not consider many of these people to be civilians.
“No Afghan can accept that the above mentioned people are civilian. We have pledged in the beginning of our yearly operations that these people are criminals.”
“They are directly involved in the protraction of our country’s invasion and legally we do not find any difficulty in their elimination, rather we consider it our obligation,” Mujahid said.
He also denied that the Taliban were specifically targeting civilians with homemade bombs.
“The obvious thing is that our enemy is exhausted with our mine tactics and has suffered serious losses and you want to defame our effective resource,” Mujahid said.
Meanwhile, in violence around Afghanistan on Thursday, a German soldier was wounded and two Afghan policemen were killed in a pre-dawn operation against insurgents in the Khawaj Ghaltan neighborhood of the eastern city of Kunduz. Four insurgents were also killed, said Sarwar Husseini. Also in the southern city of Kandahar a police officer was killed and two were wounded in a hand grenade attack, said Javeed Faisal, a spokesman for the provincial governor.