Civilian casualties in the cattle market in Sangin district of Helmand province and in some other provinces of the country

Press release

June 30, 2020

Civilian casualties in the cattle market in Sangin district of Helmand province and in some other provinces of the country

Unfortunately, a large number of civilians have been killed and injured in various provinces of the country from June 25 to June 29, 2020.

Initial findings of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) on the incidents are as follows:

  • Two children, a woman and a man, members of the same family, were killed and two men, two women and a child were injured on June 25 as a result of the ANA’s air strikes on the Taliban in Wazirabad village of Balkh province.
  • One child was killed and three others were injured on June 27 as a result of gun fires by ANA soldiers in Chanjir village of Nad Ali district of Helmand province.
  • Four members of a family (one man, one woman and two children) were injured and one child was killed on June 27, when a mortar fired by security forces hit a residential house in Dichi Khana village of Qarghan district of Faryab province.
  • Eight members of a family (including women and children) were killed on June 28 when a vehicle carrying civilians hit a roadside mine in Shaikhimanda village of Washir district of Helmand province.
  • Finally, yesterday (29 June) a massive number of civilians were killed and injured due to a rocket attack on the old bazaar of the Sangin district of Helmand province (the government and the Taliban group blamed each other). The Commission continues its investigation into the incident. Our findings to date have shown that 27 civilians have been killed and 35 others have been injured, cattle have also been killed in this attack.

The parties are obliged to observe the principles of international humanitarian law (IHL), the principles of distinction, precaution and proportionality. Under these principles, attacks on civilians, civilian objects and facilities, as well as the use of weapons that do not distinguish between civilians or civilian objects and military targets, are prohibited. The ultimate goal of these principles is to protect civilians’ lives and properties.

Given the interest of the parties in starting intra-Afghan peace talks, it is expected that they will behave more responsibly in compliance with international humanitarian law and show their adherence to principles of international law, as well as to the civil and human rights of Afghan citizens.

AIHRC considers these attacks as instances of war crimes, and firmly condemns them, and expresses its sympathy and solidarity with the families of the victims. The Commission also reiterates its call on the parties to stop attacks on civilian targets and to abide by international humanitarian law and civil rights laws and regulations.

AIHRC also calls on the authorities to carry out a full investigation into the attacks, in particular the attack on the cattle market in the Sangin district of Helmand province, in order to bring the perpetrators to justice and ensure the rights of the victims.