KABUL - Residents and activists from around Ghor province gathered in the capital of Ferozkhoh on Saturday to voice criticism of the government for releasing Taliban militants who they claim were involved in the mass killing of 16 civilians in Ghor earlier this week.
The Ghor Police Chief has said that the group of militants that brutally shot down the civilians was led by Qari Rahmatullah and Mullah Farooq, who were both previously released from the prison of Ghor province. Since they were freed, Ghor police claim the two men have formed a band of over 2,000 militants that are disrupting security in the province.
"Those who have killed our sisters, our brothers and our people, they were released from the Ghor prison, and now they are doing these acts, killing our people," said Police Chief General Fahim Qayem.
The demonstration on Saturday attracted people from all walks of life, but all of them were united in their despair for the victims of the massacre and frustration at the policies they believe allowed it to happen.
"Every dead body had over 100, 70 or sixty bullets, they were torn to pieces," said Muhammad Nader Ehsani, a religious scholar participating in the Ghor demonstration on Saturday. "Are they killing in the name of religion, Taliban, or Quran? Down with them."
"They are trying to disrupt national unity," civil society activist Hassan Hakimi said. "We warn them that we aware, and their violent acts cannot separate us."
The Governor of Ghor, Said Anwar Rahmati, has recognized that members of the Taliban who were previously in custody participated in the attack. He said the militants were released as a result of pressure from a number of Parliament members and the carelessness of the judiciary.
"Yes, unfortunately, these acts are carried out by Qari Rahmatullah, someone who was in prison in Ghor and released due to pressure from some members of Parliament, and poor judgment by judges," Governor Rahmati said.
A number of Taliban commanders who have been released from prison have returned to the battlefield, and outrage over their being freed has fired up with growing frequency over the past year.
President Hamid Karzai himself has been a major proponent of releasing suspected militants from custody, especially those who were arrested with the help of NATO forces. This policy has further aggravated tensions between him and the Western countries that support the Afghan government, and caused major backlash among top Afghan leaders as well. (Tolonews)