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Afghan Human Rights Defender Kidnapped, Shot Dead

The chairwoman of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) says the acting head of the organization's office in the western province of Ghor was found dead after being abducted by the Taliban.

Abdul Samad Amiri "was kidnapped by Taliban on his way [from] Kabul to Ghor in Jalreez area of Maidan Wardak province. We received the extremely shocking news this morning that he was shot last night,” Shaharzad Akbar tweeted on September 5.

Jalreez district is located west of Kabul.

"Our colleagues organized for Mr Amiri’s body to be carried to Kabul and are now with the family. The commission is in mourning and we are all extremely shocked. We are investigating the details and @AfghanistanIHRC will soon release a statement,” Akbar wrote in a separate tweet.

The commissioners of the AIHRC are appointed by the president.

The Taliban has not immediately commented on Amiri's killing, which Amnesty International called a "war crime."

"Even as the Taliban claims to be pursuing peace, it continues to kill people in the most gruesome way," Samira Hamidi, South Asia researcher at the London-based human rights watchdog, said in a statement.

Hamidi said Amiri "devoted his life to standing up for the rights of others, those who have no one else to speak for them."

"This tragedy underscores the grave dangers that human rights defenders in Afghanistan face. Threatened by all sides in a conflict that continues to claim civilian lives daily, they are left defenseless," the statement said.

The killing comes two weeks after Amnesty International warned that Afghanistan’s human rights community was under "intensifying attacks" from both the authorities and armed groups.

Human rights defenders and activists have been largely ignored by the Afghan government and the international community as they face "intimidation, harassment, threats, and violence," the group said on August 28.

There has been no let-up in violence in the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan, even though U.S. and Taliban negotiators appeared to be closing in on an accord to end the fighting.

More than 3,800 civilians were killed or injured during the first six months of this year alone, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

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