UN accuses Taliban of massacre
BBC News, 20 January 2001
By Kate Clark in Kabul
The United Nations has accused Taliban forces of killing at least 100 civilians in central Afghanistan.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said they had received many reports of civilians in Yakawlang district being deliberately attacked and killed. The district of Yakawlang has been under Taliban control since 1998, but was briefly captured by opposition troops late last year.
The UN says the killing of civilians took place when the Taliban recaptured the district, but the Taliban has denied the allegations, saying it has the support of civilians in the area.
In a statement issued in New York, Mr Annan said there had been summary executions and arbitrary arrests. One UN employee has not been seen since 7 January and remains unaccounted for. Other Afghans working for aid agencies are also reported to be among the dead.
The UN said the massacre has resulted in the displacement of thousands of civilians, who are fleeing Yakawlang. The secretary-general said 200 families were arriving every day in the town of Panjab alone.
Travelling in this mountainous region in the middle of winter can be perilous, especially if families with children are setting out on foot in the snow.
The whole area is severely affected by drought and food shortages.
Mr Annan said the displaced people were in danger of death from exposure and hunger. He said the aid community would need unimpeded access to the area to give humanitarian assistance.
He has also called for a full investigation into who was responsible for ordering the killings, and for justice to be done. The Taliban Minister of Information, Qudratullah Jamal, rejected the UN accusations.
He said the Taliban had enormous support in the area, and there was no reason for them to target local civilians. He also said journalists were free to go to the region and judge for themselves what had happened.
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