Mazar-I-Sharif, Afghanistan: Islamic State fighters who surrendered to Afghan forces this week in the northern province of Jawzjan may be granted amnesty despite accusations of atrocities including rape and murder, officials said.
Around 150 Islamic State fighters, including two senior commanders, gave themselves up after being driven from their strongholds in Jawzjan by the Taliban after weeks of fighting.
Thousands of civilians fled the area in the districts of Darzab and Qush Tepa and many accused Islamic State fighters of multiple atrocities, giving detailed accounts of women and young girls being taken from their families, raped and, in some cases, murdered.
However the spokesman for the Jawzjan provincial governor said the need to encourage militant fighters to surrender was likely to mean that they would not face charges.
“There is an amnesty for the Daesh group that surrendered in Darzab district,” Mohammad Reza Ghafouri, spokesman for the Jawzjan provincial governor, said, referring to Islamic State.
“The group will not be presented to legal and judicial authorities because they are taking part in the peace process,” he said, adding that people with complaints about individual Islamic State members were free to take the matter up with the courts.
Government officials said it was the first time such large numbers of Islamic State fighters had surrendered at once. Several women and children, all related to the fighters, had also handed themselves to Afghan authorities.
While pressure has been building for peace talks between the Western-backed government in Kabul and the Taliban, the local affiliate of Islamic State, which has gained an unmatched reputation for brutality, has shown no signs of joining.
Defence Ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish said the military had done its duty and it was now for the government to decide the next step.
“As defenders of our people and country, our job is to fight our enemy until the battle ground. Now they have surrendered…our job is done,” he said.
(Courtesy: Global Governance Watch)