Taliban insists interpreters not targets

·2-min read

Taliban officials insist Afghan interpreters who worked with Australian troops will not be subjected to reprisal attacks.

Hundreds of Afghan interpreters, contractors and security guards who worked for Australia are seeking protection as the Taliban reclaim control of the country.

Some of those seeking asylum in Australia have received death threats from Taliban forces.

Graphic videos have emerged of Taliban commanders conducting brutal and bloody reprisals against civilians following the departure of allied troops.

But Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said Afghans who were no longer working with foreign forces would not be targeted.

"If they are not with the foreign forces and they have stopped working with them and they have opted for living a normal life in Afghanistan, we have no problem with that," he told ABC radio on Friday.

"They are secure, there will be no threat posed to their life, they can live their normal life."

Mr Shaheen claimed people were raising the death threats simply to "make their case" for asylum in western countries.

"That fear is a fake."

Afghan diplomat and women's rights activist Shukrya Barakzai said the interpreters' fears were well founded.

"There will be no mercy for them. They kill, they assassinate," she said of the Taliban.

"This is why those interpreters or local staff and colleagues have a great fear, especially in those provinces where Australian troops were, for instance Uruzgan, where a large number of Taliban are right now.

"This is the time the international community should pay attention. The Australian government is responsible for the lives of those Afghans they worked with."

As the Taliban seizes more ground in Afghanistan, there are growing concerns about the safety of women and girls.

The Taliban insist they will protect women's rights if they seize control of the country, despite inflicting decades of abuse.

But there are reports women and girls have already been banned from attending school and leaving the house in districts the Taliban has reclaimed.

Mr Shaheen said the claims of subjugation and repression were false.

"Our opponents are producing fake propaganda against us," he said.

Ms Barakzai said women and girls were already being sexually exploited and banned from getting an education by the Taliban.

"Unfortunately what the Taliban are saying and what they are doing are two different things," she said.

"There is a huge difference between their propaganda and literally what they are doing on the ground with the people."

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