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Afghan security forces at the Torkham border point. Photo: Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul accused Taliban fighters on Monday of carrying out "revenge killings" against dozens of civilians in Spin Boldak, a border district captured in a military offensive last month.

Why it matters: Reports of violence and human rights atrocities are growing ahead of the U.S. military's full withdrawal from Afghanistan. Officials have warned that the country could descend into a chaotic civil war as the Taliban continues to seize more territory on the battlefield each week.

What they're saying: "In Spin Boldak, Kandahar, the Taliban massacred dozens of civilians in revenge killings. These murders could constitute war crimes; they must be investigated & those Taliban fighters or commanders responsible held accountable," the U.S. Embassy in Kabul tweeted, calling for an immediate ceasefire.

  • "The Taliban's leadership must be held responsible for the crimes of their fighters. If you cannot control your fighters now, you have no business in governance later," the embassy added.

Details: Afghan security forces attempted to recapture the Spin Boldak district in the days after it fell to the Taliban on July 14, according to a report by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

  • The military operation was welcomed by some local residents, who ran out of their homes to greet the Afghan soldiers. The operation ultimately failed, however, and the Taliban conducted a sweep of the villages to identify government supporters.
  • At least 40 civilians were then expelled from their homes and killed by the Taliban, according to the report, which also accused Taliban fighters of looting property.
  • "[T]his and other similar incidents show that contrary to what they proclaim, the group has no practical commitment to the principles of international human rights and humanitarian law," the AIHRC said in a statement.

Go deeper: U.S. expands Afghan refugee program as Taliban violence escalates

Go deeper

Oct 19, 2021 - World

WHO, UNICEF to launch polio vaccine drive in Afghanistan

Afghan boys return to their homes after attending school in Chashma Dozak area of Badghis province on Oct. 16. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will launch a house-to-house vaccination campaign to inoculate children in Afghanistan against polio, the UN announced Monday.

Why it matters: The campaign, which begins Nov. 8 with the Taliban's backing, is the first such vaccine drive in over three years to reach all Afghan children, the press release noted.

2 hours ago - World

Report: LGBTQ+ Afghans' lives "dramatically worsened" under Taliban rule

Taliban fighters in Kabul, Afghanistan, earlier this month. Photo: Mohd Rasfan/AFP via Getty Images

LGBTQ+ Afghans have been threatened, attacked and "faced an increasingly desperate situation and grave threats to their safety" since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan last August, per a report published Wednesday.

What they're saying: "We spoke with LGBT Afghans who have survived gang rape, mob attacks, or have been hunted by their own family members who joined the Taliban, and they have no hope that state institutions will protect them," per a statement from study co-author J. Lester Feder.

4 hours ago - World

Canadian Indigenous group finds 93 suspected unmarked graves

A makeshift memorial honoring the 215 children whose remains were found in a mass grave in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, last May. Photo: Cole Burston/AFP via Getty Images

Indigenous leaders in Canada's western province of British Columbia said Tuesday they believe they've found 93 unmarked graves near a former boarding school.

The big picture: Hundreds of mass graves have been found at the grounds of former residential schools for Indigenous children since last May, when the remains of 215 children were uncovered at one such site in B.C.