Afghanistan Discovery of a decades old mass grave

Afghanistan: Discovery of a decades-old mass grave

A mass grave containing about 100 bodies believed to be from the era of the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan was discovered in the eastern province of Khost, local Taliban officials announced Monday.

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The mass grave was uncovered on Saturday during the construction of a small dam in the Sarbani area of ​​central Khost, said Mayor Bismillah Bilal.

“According to initial information, these people were buried here after being killed in the year 1358” of the Afghan calendar, which corresponds to April 1979 to March 1980, he told AFP.

“At least 100 bodies were discovered,” Mr. Bilal added, stressing that some of the remains were wearing women’s clothing and that all were civilians.

Local residents said the remains belonged to victims of the violence that followed the Soviet-backed communist coup in Afghanistan in 1978.

“In 1358, these people were brought here without trial in a merciless and barbaric manner by the cruel communist authorities,” said Salam Sharifi, whose father disappeared under the communist government and whose remains have never been found.

“They were martyred and we are their descendants. It is an atrocity that history will never forget,” Mr Sharifi added to AFP.

A committee was set up to transport the remains. Residents helped city workers remove the bodies from the site and piled the bones in bags around the mass grave unearthed Monday.

“Nobody knows who these martyrs are,” said Mandair Mangal, a resident. “They have all been buried and we are removing the bones and sorting them.”

After decades of conflict – including the 1979 Soviet invasion, the ensuing civil war and the US-led occupation – numerous mass graves have been discovered across Afghanistan.

In 2009, another mass grave of victims from the Soviet-backed government era was discovered, containing at least 20 bodies.

Most recently, another mass grave containing the remains of twelve people was unearthed in September 2022 in Spin Boldak, a site of fierce fighting between former Afghan government forces and Taliban fighters during their two-decade insurgency before they seized power in 2021.