Investigating Evidence of Prisoner Executions in the Panjshir Valley in September 2022
Using open source techniques, Afghan Witness has been able to conclusively link one group of Taliban fighters to the execution of ten men in the Dara District area.
18 Oct 2022
On 13 September 2022, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid claimed 40 resistance fighters had been killed and 101 captured as part of a “large-scale clearance operation” conducted in the Rukha, Dara and Afshar districts of Panjshir province. No further details were given on the nature or circumstances of the 40 deaths.
The National Resistance Front (NRF) – Afghanistan’s most prominent resistance group – claimed that the Taliban was exaggerating the number of fighters killed. Ali Nazary, head of NRF’s foreign relations, told the AFP news agency that “a small group” of NRF forces had been captured and killed by the Taliban.
Around this time, footage began to surface online showing Taliban fighters allegedly executing resistance fighters, alongside further footage and images indicating extrajudicial executions. On 14 September 2022, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) stated that it was “gravely concerned” by the latest allegations of “serious human rights violations” in Panjshir.
Using open source (OSINT) techniques, Afghan Witness (AW) has been able to conclusively link one group of Taliban fighters to the execution of ten men in the Dara District area. AW was able to geolocate footage showing the execution of five men by the Taliban group to a mountaintop in Pochaveh Valley, in the Dara-e-Hazara area of Dara District. The same five men can be seen in earlier footage being marched up a mountain – hands tied behind their backs – by the Taliban fighters. The video can be located within metres of the execution site.
The group of Taliban fighters can be identified with five more men who were later executed. One victim is seen being marched up the mountain alongside the first five, and two are recorded being interrogated by the fighters. The bodies of these three men were photographed together at an unidentifiable location, but likely within the vicinity of the first execution site.
The last two confirmed victims, allegedly father and son, are photographed in captivity alongside a building and in the rear of a truck, and are recorded being interrogated by a fighter from the Taliban group, who was also present at the mountaintop executions. The bodies of the two men are later shown in a video at an unidentifiable location.
Furthermore, AW has gathered credible evidence of a further 17 executions [bringing the total to 27] and 30 deaths as a result of the Taliban offensive against alleged resistance fighters in Panjshir [bringing the total to 57 victims]. The close-up images are original and only surfaced during the offensive, though cannot be geolocated.
Read AW's full report, 'Systematic and Summary: Investigating Evidence of Prisoner Executions in the Panjshir Valley in September 2022' which explains the above conclusions in depth and detail: