Taliban kill journalist's relative in Afghanistan

The militants are also searching homes for people who worked with US and Nato forces, a report to the UN says

Taliban fighters in Afghanistan have shot dead a relative of a journalist working for Deutsche Welle, the German public broadcaster says.

The news comes as fears grow the hardline group is reneging on its promise not to target the media or Afghans who worked with foreign countries.

Deutsche Welle said the militants were conducting a house-to-house search for the journalist, who now works in Germany. A second relative was seriously wounded but others were able to escape, it said, without giving details of the incident.

Taliban leaders vowed a complete amnesty for Afghans after taking Kabul on Sunday, but a report submitted to the UN says the militants have been conducting "targeted door-to-door visits" of people who worked with US and Nato forces.

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It is evident that the Taliban are already carrying out organised searches for journalists, both in Kabul and in the provinces
Deutsche Welle director general Peter Limbourg

The report by the Norwegian Centre for Global Analyses, the UN's threat assessment consultants, said militants were also screening people on the way to the capital's airport, the only exit route for thousands of foreigners and Afghans seeking to flee Taliban rule.

"They are targeting the families of those who refuse to give themselves up, and prosecuting and punishing their families 'according to Sharia law'," Christian Nellemann, the group's executive director, told AFP.

"We expect both individuals previously working with Nato/US forces and their allies, alongside with their family members to be exposed to torture and executions."

The Taliban have denied such accusations in the past and have several times issued statements saying fighters were barred from entering private homes.

They also insisted women and journalists have nothing to fear under their new rule, although several media workers have reported being beaten with sticks or whips when trying to record some of the chaos seen in Kabul in recent days.

Deutsche Welle director general Peter Limbourg said the killing of its employee's relative showed the danger facing media workers and their families in Afghanistan.

"It is evident that the Taliban are already carrying out organised searches for journalists, both in Kabul and in the provinces. We are running out of time!"

The Taliban had raided the homes of at least three other DW journalists, the broadcaster said.

DW and other German media organisations have called on the German government to take swift action to help their Afghan staff.

The Taliban launched a public relations blitz promising media freedom and a pardon for all their opponents after regaining control of the country.

Under Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001, Afghan women were excluded from public life and girls banned from school. Under the strict version of Islamic law imposed by the group, people were stoned to death for adultery, while music and television were banned.

The United States invaded Afghanistan and toppled Taliban in 2001 for providing sanctuary to Al Qaeda following the September 11 attacks.

A video posted online by a high-profile woman journalist this week for a government-run television station offered a different reality to the Taliban's new image of tolerance.

"Our lives are under threat," Shabnam Dawran, an anchor at state-owned broadcaster RTA, said as she recounted being barred from the office.

"The male employees, those with office cards were allowed to enter the office but I was told that I couldn't continue my duty because the system has been changed," she said.

Updated: August 20th 2021, 8:48 AM
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