Taliban shoot dead Afghan folk singer in restive province

Taliban murder Afghan singer: Folk musician who played the lute and sang traditional songs for locals in the mountains was ‘dragged out of his home and shot in the head’

  • Fawad Andarabi was killed on Friday in the Andarabi Valley, Baghlan province 
  • His son, Jawad, said the Taliban had previously searched his father’s home and drank tea with the musician but something changed that day
  • Reason for the killing unknown and Jawad said a local Taliban council has promised to punish the killer, group’s spokesman said it would investigate
  • The killing has reignited concerns that the Taliban will return to oppressive rule
  • The insurgent group recaptured the Afghan capital on August 15 

The Taliban have killed an Afghan folk singer in a restive mountain province under unclear circumstances, reigniting concerns that the insurgents will return to their oppressive rule. 

Fawad Andarabi was shot and killed on Friday in the Andarabi Valley, for which he was named, his family said on Sunday. 

The area is in Baghlan province, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Kabul, which was recaptured by the Taliban on August 15. 

The valley had seen an upheaval since the Taliban takeover, with some districts coming under the control of militia fighters opposed to Taliban rule. 

The Taliban says it has since retaken those areas, although neighbouring Panjshir in the Hindu Kush mountains remains the only one of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces not under its control.

Andarabi’s son Jawad told the Associated Press that the Taliban had previously come to his father’s home and searched it, even drinking tea with the musician. But something changed on Friday. 

Folk singer Fawad Andarabi (centre in green) was shot and killed on Friday in the Andarabi Valley, for which he was named, his family said on Sunday

‘He was innocent, a singer who was only entertaining people,’ Jawad said. ‘They shot him in the head on the farm’.

Jawad said he wants justice and that a local Taliban council promised to punish his father’s killer.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the AP that the insurgents would investigate the incident, but said he had no other details on the killing. 

Andarabi played the ghichak, a bowed lute, and sang traditional songs about his birthplace, his people, and Afghanistan as a whole. 

A video shared online showed him during one performance, sitting on a rug and surrounded by mountains as he sang.

‘There is no country in the world like my homeland, a proud nation,’ he sang. ‘Our beautiful valley, our great-grandparents’ homeland’.

Masoud Andarabi, former Afghan minister of the interior, wrote in a Twitter post alongside the video: ‘Taliban’s brutality continues in Andarab. Today they brutally killed folkloric singer, Fawad Andarabi who simply was bringing joy to this valley and its people.

‘As he sang here ‘our beautiful valley….land of our forefathers…’ will not submit to Taliban’s brutality.’

Andarabi’s slaying also drew responses from the international community, with Karima Bennoune, the United Nations special rapporteur on cultural rights, writing on Twitter that she had ‘grave concern’ over the killing.

Agnes Callamard, the secretary-general of Amnesty International, also decried the killing.  

‘There is mounting evidence that the Taliban of 2021 is the same as the intolerant, violent, repressive Taliban of 2001,’ she wrote on Twitter. ’20 years later. Nothing has changed on that front.’

Andarabi’s killing comes as the United States winds down an historic airlift that saw tens of thousands evacuated from Kabul’s international airport, the scene of much of the chaos that engulfed the Afghan capital since the Taliban took over two weeks ago. 

After an Islamic State affiliate’s suicide attack that killed over 180 people, the Taliban increased its security around the airfield as the UK ended its evacuation flights Saturday.

U.S. military cargo planes continued their runs into the airport Sunday, ahead of a Tuesday deadline earlier set by President Joe Biden to withdraw all troops from America’s longest war.

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