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'If they find us, I know they will kill us': Afghan activist's fears Taliban rule

22 August 2021, 10:43 | Updated: 22 August 2021, 11:56

By Will Taylor

An Afghan civil rights activist who is hiding from the Taliban has told LBC the new regime will kill him if they find him.

Mustafa – as LBC is calling him, to protect his identity – is now living in fear after the group seized his country in a lightening offensive.

Their victories followed the withdrawal of international forces, who are now desperately scrambling to evacuate their citizens and Afghan helpers from Kabul, and the collapse of the previous republic.

He hopes to get the chance to leave Afghanistan because "we cannot stay here" and he rejected the top British general's assessment that the Taliban may have changed.

In a stark evaluation of the threat he faces, Mustafa said on Swarbrick on Sunday: "If they find us, I know they will kill us."

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Thousands are trying to flee Afghanistan to escape the Taliban, who ruled until 2001 when they were overthrown in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

US and Afghan fighters deposed them and their Al Qaeda allies, and ended years of the suppression of women's rights under a strict version of sharia law.

The Taliban has insisted it is more moderate now – but reports say women's rights have already been curtailed in some parts and targeted killings have been carried out.

Mustafa said: "If they knew that we were civil activists, if they found us, they will assassinate all of them.

"They are going door by door and looking for those who worked with international (forces) or they worked for gender or women's rights… they will kill them all.

"A group of people told us they found some of the activists and they kidnapped them and they have disappeared now.

"People are scared, all activists and social workers and international staff are hiding around their house or they've relocated their place."

Speaking to Tom Swarbrick, Mustafa had to pause as he recounted his fear he will be killed by Taliban fighters.

He was played a clip by the professional head of the British armed forces, General Sir Nick Carter, who suggested the Taliban needed space to see if they govern responsibly.

But Mustafa rejected the idea the group had become more moderate.

"It's totally wrong… they have not changed," he said.

There are fears the US could withdraw its forces from Kabul airport by August 31, though Joe Biden has insisted they will stay as long as is necessary.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Defence said seven people had died amid chaotic scenes at Hamid Karzai International Airport, with reports crushes and stampedes as the Taliban fire into the air.

International forces are trying to keep control of the security situation there as thousands flee the new regime.