The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) expressed “grave concern” at the increase in targeted killings of civilians, particularly during attacks on religious sites and places of worship, that target religious scholars and worshippers.
In a report released on Saturday, the AIHRC found that 170 civilians had been killed, including five mullahs and 14 children, and 272 injured in the time period between October 2019-July 2020 in such attacks.
“Attacks on civilians and places of worship is a clear violation of international humanitarian law and a war crime,” the rights commission said.
They recorded 17 such attacks, suicide bombings, targeted killings, shootings by unknown individuals, and the Taliban. “Unfortunately, most of the victims of these criminal attacks were worshipers, children and religious scholars, all of whom are considered civilians,” the report notes.
Of the detailed incidents, maximum number of casualties were reported in Nangarhar province, with the Oct. 18, 2019, explosion of the mosque in Haska Mena district and the May 12, 2020, suicide blast during a funeral procession in Kuz Kunar district.
In the mosque bombing last year, AIHRC reported 64 civilians were killed and 34 injured, including five children in the IS-claimed attack during Friday prayers.
At the funeral procession of a commander of the district’s police force, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives, killing 51 civilians and injuring 159 others, including six children. The attack had been claimed by the IS later, however the AIHRC report does not mention it.
“Civilians and places of worship must be protected,” the AIHRC urged, telling the government to take greater care of religious freedom of expression and tolerance in the country.