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Afghanistan: 'music party' killings condemned as a war crime

Amnesty International has condemned the brutal killing of some 17 people who took part in a music party in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province on Sunday night (26 August).

According to reports, there were two or three Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights among the dead - some of the victims were shot dead and others were beheaded.

The Afghan government has accused the Taleban of the killings and said that the area where the incident occurred was under the control of the Taleban. However, the Taleban has not claimed responsibility for the attack.

Amnesty has so far been unable to verify independently the government’s claim or the circumstances surrounding the incident. However, it appears from the reports that none of the victims were actively engaged in fighting, which makes their killing a war crime - if carried out by a party to the armed conflict in Afghanistan.

Amnesty is repeating its call on all parties to the armed conflict in Afghanistan - including the Afghan government, international forces, Taleban and other insurgent groups - to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law: they must never single out civilians for attack and must at all times protect them from harm.

Amnesty has welcomed the Afghan president’s statement that a “full investigation into the incident” is to be launched and calls on the Afghan government to ensure that the investigation is impartial, independent, professional and effective. Those suspected of involvement in the killings must be brought to trial in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness and without imposing the death penalty.

Amnesty calls upon the Taleban to fully cooperate with the investigation.

In June Taleban forces attacked the Spozhmay Hotel in Kabul where locals were having a music party, killing 15 people, mostly civilians. The Taleban justified this attack by claiming that the hotel was hosting “immoral” parties. Under Afghanistan’s Taleban-led government of 1996-2001, the playing of music and other acts of entertainment were prohibited, and there were severe punishments for those caught listening to music either in private or public.

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