The Taliban admitted that its fighters beheaded seven Afghan soldiers during clashes last week in the northeastern province of Badakhshan. The Taliban acknowledged that the beheadings are “contradictory to rules of engagement,” but then justified the gruesome acts as revenge for Afghan soldiers mutilating Taliban fighters.
In a statement released today on Voice of Jihad, the Taliban’s official media outlet, the jihadist group said it “launched its usual investigation” of the reports of the beheadings “as part of its Islamic and humanitarian responsibility.”
The Taliban killed, captured, or wounded 33 troops after more than 250 Taliban fighters assaulted the district of Jurm in Badakhshan last week, according to news reports. Afghan forces claimed that 20 Taliban fighters were killed in the fighting.
The Taliban claimed that after a clash on March 20 in the Wardoj district, “the invader nurtured mercenaries [Afghan soldiers and police] brutally shot the martyrs in the face to the point they were unrecognizable in violation of all principles of Islam and humanity as well as all established rules of war.”
This incident, which has not been confirmed, was followed by another clash in the Jurm district on April 14.
“But since the stooge regime troops had mutilated Mujahideen in the previous engagement in violation of all Islamic and human norms therefore a few Mujahideen in revenge beheaded seven regime soldiers on their own,” the Taliban stated.
The Taliban then proceeded to place the blame squarely on Afghan forces in Badakhshan.
“While the Islamic Emirate considers both of the incidents contradictory to rules of engagement [sic] however it places the blame of both grisly incidents squarely on the invaders and their hirelings because they were the first ones to commit such an act,” the Taliban stated.
The Taliban then referred to the group’s “rules of engagement and booklet of military code of conduct issued by the Islamic Emirate.” According to the booklet, the Taliban fighters should have executed the Afghan troops by shooting them, not beheading them.
“Article no. 21 this military code of conduct booklet of the Islamic Emirate states: (21 – If the blood of a criminal becomes lawful Shariah wise, and the death penalty is handed, be it to a spy or other criminal, he must be shot with a rifle, and its filming is prohibited),” according to the Taliban statement.
The Taliban did not state if the fighters who beheaded the Afghan troops would be punished.
Areas of Badakhshan have been contested
The once-peaceful province of Badakhshan has become increasingly unstable over the past several years, as the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan have exerted their influence in the remote northeastern area. The province was transferred from ISAF to Afghan control at the end of January 2012.
The Taliban have taken control of districts in Badakhshan three times since the summer of 2013.
In May 2014, the Taliban overran the Yamgan district and captured 27 government officials. Afghan troops claimed to have retaken control of Yamgan, but the Taliban claimed to remain in the district.
In September 2013, the Taliban overran the Wardoj district center, prompting an Afghan military operation to retake the government complex. Shortly after the government claimed Wardoj was cleared, the Taliban ambushed an Afghan police convoy, killing 23 police officers and capturing more than 20. The Taliban denied being driven from the district.
Also in September 2013, the Taliban seized control of the Karan wa Munjan district center in Badakhshan. Shortly after the Taliban took the district, Afghan security forces claimed to have regained control of Karan wa Munjan.