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Thursday, 15 February, 2001, 15:39 GMT
Afghan executions condemned
Afghan fighters
Amnesty says international body needed to investigate atrocities
By Afghanistan correspondent Kate Clark

Amnesty International has condemned the summary execution of prisoners by the Afghan opposition.

The London-based human rights organisation cited the case of six men who it says were executed in an area controlled by the opposition's top commander, Ahmed Shah Masood.

Refugees in the Panjshir valley
Men were executed after Panjshir valley ambush

Amnesty says the family of one of the prisoners described signs of violence on his body, including missing fingernails.

The allegations come amid an escalation of violence between the ruling Taleban militia and opposition forces.

Ambush

Amnesty says the six men were arrested in early December after an opposition commander was killed in an ambush on his way to the northern Panjshir valley.

Mr Masood's administration has said the prisoners were tried before they were executed but has provided no information about the nature of their trial.

According to Amnesty, the six men were executed within just 40 hours of their arrest.

So even if a trial had been held, there would have been no time for the men to call witnesses, find a lawyer or launch an appeal against their death sentences.

Human rights abuses

These are not the first allegations of abuses committed by armed groups during Afghanistan's long civil war.

Amnesty says Afghans need an independent international body to investigate all reports of human rights abuses, to establish facts, identify perpetrators and recommend how to bring them to justice.

On Wednesday, the Taleban militia admitted losing control of the strategic central city of Bamiyan to opposition forces, their first major defeat for two years.

Bamiyan is a stronghold of Afghanistan's minority Shia Muslim community and lies on the main highway linking the capital, Kabul, to Mazar-e-Sharif in the north.

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See also:

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UN envoy visits 'forgotten' Afghans
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