The Taliban bleed, too

Actions that will be discussed for years to come. Although humanitarian bodies must remain politically neutral, the truth remains that in a war zone situation such distinctions are hard to make. And shouldn’t everybody be given care when injured, no matter who they are?

The Red Cross in Afghanistan has been teaching the Taliban basic first aid and giving insurgents medical equipment so that fighters wounded during battles with Nato and Afghan government forces can be treated in the field, it was revealed today.

More than 70 members of the “armed opposition” received training in April, the Red Cross said – a move likely to anger the government of Hamid Karzai, which is losing large numbers of police and soldiers in insurgent attacks.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it had introduced the classes because pitched battles, landmines and roadblocks stopped people in the most volatile areas from getting to hospital.

The Red Cross, which aims to remain neutral in the conflict, has trained more than 100 Afghan soldiers and policemen, as well as a network of taxi drivers who operate an unofficial ambulance service in Helmand and Kandahar provinces.

Today, a leading figure in Kandahar’s local government, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the Taliban did “not deserve to be treated like humans”.

He said: “They are like animals, and they treat the people they capture worse than animals. They kidnapped and killed an American lady and then wouldn’t even return her body. These people don’t deserve this help.”

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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