‘Don’t kill civilians,’ Taliban leader tells fighters
Elusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar called on his fighters to avoid killing civilians in a statement posted Friday on the Afghanistan hardline Islamists’ website, SITE Intelligence reported.
The US monitoring group said Omar “stressed that his fighters must maintain good relations with civilians and to avoid any action that may possibly harm them, and in turn, the people must also take measures to keep themselves safe from attacks.”
“The common folk must also facilitate Mujahedeen (holy warriors) in averting civilian losses and sufferings,” SITE quoted an English-language statement attributed to Omar as saying.
In his message, released for the occasion of Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, the Taliban leader also urged civilians to keep their distance from American soldiers.
“They should avoid moving in close proximity to Americans that patrol in villages and countryside and should actively put to practice the precautionary measures announced by Mujahedeen so no harm will reach them during the impending attacks of the invaders,” he said.
Omar is the spiritual leader of the insurgency in Afghanistan who presided over the 1996-2001 Taliban regime in Kabul, which was toppled in a US-led invasion for refusing to give up Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks.
He has frequently been reported killed, the most recent time in July when a written text message announcing his death was sent to media from a Taliban phone.
The Taliban denied sending the message and accused Americans of hacking their phones, while insisting their one-eyed leader was alive and directing the group’s operations.
A decade after being toppled, the Taliban remain a deadly force in Afghanistan, continuing to wage attacks against Afghan, US and NATO forces and Kabul’s efforts to bring the group into peace talks have so far been in vain.
The United States, which leads a NATO mission in the restive country, provides more than two-thirds of a total of 140,000 foreign troops currently in Afghanistan.