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Afghanistan/Iran: Taliban Say World Ignores Iran's Murder Of Prisoners

Islamabad, 17 September 1998 (RFE/RL) - Afghanistan's ruling Taliban today accused human rights groups of ignoring the murder of its own fighters by Iran's allies. The Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) today quoted Taliban senior spokesman Wakil Ahmed saying that groups like Amnesty International were focusing only on the recent killing of nine Iranians. Ahmed accused the Iran-backed opposition faction Hezbi-i-Wahdat of killing 30 Taliban prisoners and sending 15 to jails in Iran before the Taliban took the central town of Bamiyan from the faction over the weekend.

Ahmed charged human rights groups and the United Nations with ignoring the murder of its own fighters by Iranian allies in the anti-Taliban opposition.

The nine Iranians were killed during the Taliban seizure of Mazar-e-Sharif early last month, prompting Iran to step up its criticism of the Taliban and to mass troops and armaments along its common border with Afghanistan.

There was no immediate reaction from the accused parties.

The Taliban steadfastly has denied that any atrocities or reprisals were taken against Bamiyan's Shiites when the town was seized on Sunday. The Taliban yesterday agreed to U.N. conditions for sending an assessment mission to Bamiyan in response to Taliban appeals for aid.

Meanwhile, AIP reports Taliban forces strengthened their hold in Bamiyan province today, reportedly capturing the key Sheikh Ali district.

Also today, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz arrived in Tehran for talks on the Afghan crisis that has marred relations between Iran and Pakistan.

Iranian state television said Aziz arrived on an "unexpected and short" visit. The television said he was carrying a message from Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.

Relations between the two nations worsened recently after Tehran accused Pakistan of aiding the Taliban in their offensive and capture of the central Afghan town of Bamiyan, an urban stronghold of Shiite Muslim opposition which Iran supports. Pakistan denies interfering in Afghanistan.