The bodies of 11 Shia men, their heads cut off and placed next to them, have been found in a violent southern province of Afghanistan, a senior police official said on Friday.A police patrol discovered the bodies on Thursday in the Khas Uruzgan district of Uruzgan province, north of the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, said police official Mohammad Gulab Wardak.
“This was the work of the Taliban. They beheaded these men because they were Shia Muslims and ethnic Hazaras,” he said.
Shia Hazaras, who make up roughly 15 percent of Afghanistan’s population of around 30 million, largely follow the Shi’ite sect of Islam, a minority in Afghanistan, rather than the Sunni Muslim Taliban, who are also primarily ethnic Pashtuns.
Hazaras faced widespread oppression from the Taliban when the Wahabi Taliban’s ruled most of the country during the 1990s. Mass graves containing the bodies of Shia Hazaras have been found since the militants were overthrown in late 2001.
Violence in Afghanistan is at its worst levels in the 9-year war, with the Taliban stepping up their campaign of suicide bombings and assassinations, particularly in their Kandahar heartland.