4000 killed by Taliban in Mazar-e-Sharif
BBC, September 1,1998

Less than a month after the Taliban's capture of opposition headquarters in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, international concern is mounting regarding the fate of the ethnic minorities in the area.

There have been many unconfirmed reports of summary executions and mass arrests of members of the Shi'ite community, traditionally supporters of the opposition parties.

Sources say that whilst members of the other ethnic minorities, such as the Tajik and Uzbek, were later released, the Hazara was singled out and then transported to other jails in the area.

While this has been denied by the Taleban, concern is being sharpened by the militant Muslims' total news blackout.

They are refusing to allow any journalists or independent monitors to visit the area despite persistent requests.

Our correspondent in the region says there are reports that around 4,000 people had been killed in the capture of the city and subsequent reprisals.

According to an anonymous source, anyone found on the streets on the first day after the city's capture had been shot and on the following days the Taleban carried out systematic house searches.

He said that some of those found with weapons were killed.

In one family, where several men were shot, the women kept the decomposing bodies inside the house for several days because they were too afraid to go outside.

The human rights organisation, Amnesty International, has already expressed its concern about the situation in the city.

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