KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – A Taliban fighter shot an Afghan folk singer in a troubled mountain province under unclear circumstances, his family announced on Sunday. The murder renewed concern among activists that the insurgents would return to their oppressive rule in the country after the government was overthrown by their military attack.
The assassination of Fawad Andarabi comes as the United States winds up a historic airlift that evacuated tens of thousands from Kabul International Airport, the site of much of the chaos that has ravaged the Afghan capital since the Taliban came to power two weeks ago. After a suicide attack by an Islamic State subsidiary that killed over 180 people, the Taliban increased their security around the airfield when Britain ended its evacuation flights on Saturday.
U.S. military cargo planes continued into the airport on Sunday ahead of a deadline set by President Joe Biden on Tuesday for the withdrawal of all troops from America’s longest war.
The shooting of the folk singer on Friday took place in the Andarabi Valley, after which he was named, an area of Baghlan province, about 100 kilometers north of Kabul. The valley had seen a major upheaval since the Taliban came to power, with some districts in the region coming under the control of militia fighters who opposed Taliban rule. The Taliban say they have now recaptured these areas, although neighboring Panjshir in the Hindu Kush Mountains is the only one of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces that is not under their control.
The Taliban previously came to Andarabi’s house and ransacked it, even having tea with the musician, his son Jawad Andarabi told The Associated Press. But something changed on Friday.
“He was innocent, a singer who just entertained people,” said his son. “You shot him in the head on the farm.”
His son said he wanted justice and that a local Taliban council had promised to punish his father’s killer.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the AP that the insurgents were investigating the incident but had no further details about the murder.
Andarabi played the ghichak, a bowed lute, and sang traditional songs about his birthplace, his people, and Afghanistan as a whole. A video posted on the Internet showed him at a performance sitting on a carpet with the mountains of his homeland surrounding him while he sang.
“There is no country in the world like my homeland, a proud nation,” he sang. “Our beautiful valley, the home of our great-grandparents.”
Karima Bennoune, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights, wrote on Twitter that she was “very concerned” about Andarabi’s murder.
“We urge governments to ask the Taliban to respect the #human rights of #artists,” she wrote.
Amnesty International’s general secretary, Agnes Callamard, also condemned the killing.
“There is growing evidence that the Taliban of 2021 is the same as the intolerant, violent and repressive Taliban of 2001,” she wrote on Twitter. “20 years later. Nothing changed about that.”
Akhgar reported from Istanbul, Gambrell from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
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