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Reuters
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World News

Taliban going 'door to door' hunting for Christians, searching phones for Bible apps

Leaders of the underground church in Afghanistan have warned that the Taliban are going "door to door" hunting for Christians.

A joint statement from the leaders, shared by missions group Frontier Alliance International, highlights the grave circumstances Christians are currently facing.

"The Taliban has a hit list of known Christians they are targeting to pursue and kill. The U.S. Embassy is defunct and there is no longer a safe place for believers to take refuge," the group explains. “All borders to neighbouring countries are closed and all flights to and from have been halted, with the exception of private planes. People are fleeing into the mountains looking for asylum. They are fully reliant on God, who is the only One who can and will protect them.”

The leaders added that the Taliban "are going door-to-door taking women and children". 

"The people must mark their house with an “X” if they have a girl over 12 years old, so that the Taliban can take them," they said. "If they find a young girl and the house was not marked they will execute the entire family. If a married woman 25 years or older has been found, the Taliban promptly kill her husband, do whatever they want to her, and then sell her as a sex slave." 

The group highlighted that husbands and fathers are presenting their own loved ones with a desperate choice: "They have given their wives and daughters guns and told them that when the Taliban come, they can choose to kill them or kill themselves—it is their choice". 

Other reports suggest that the Taliban has been searching the phones of civilians to check for Bible apps. The militants are reportedly killing people on the spot if they discover the scriptures on their devices.

One Christian, Bashir, said his brother and father were killed by the Taliban for cooperating with the Afghan government. “The Taliban took everything from me,” he told the i. “My family, my life, everything.”

He is attempting to flee the country on a flight out of Kabul airport, which has been swarmed by terrified Afghans.

"Everyone is running,” he said. “The children are crying in the crowd, they are scared. “I have fear more and more… if I’m abandoned I’ll die. Talibans will take control of the airport. Where will I go to hide?

“If they found me, they will shoot or hang me… I am so scared.”

A UN intelligence document backs up the reports that the Taliban is going "door to door" in search of opponents. The report was written by the Norwegian Center for Global Analyses, and also claimed that the Taliban is conducting checks on people travelling to Kabul airport. 

"They are targeting the families of those who refuse to give themselves up, and prosecuting and punishing their families 'according to sharia law'," Christian Nellemann, the group's executive director, told AFP.

"We expect both individuals previously working with NATO/US forces and their allies, alongside with their family members to be exposed to torture and executions."

Journalists are also being targeted, with the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) claiming that the Taliban had shot dead the relative of one of its journalists while hunting for the editor.

"The killing of a close relative of one of our editors by the Taliban yesterday is inconceivably tragic, and testifies to the acute danger in which all our employees and their families in Afghanistan find themselves," said DW director general Peter Limbourg.

Speaking to Sky News on Monday, Taliban spokesperson Dr Suhail Shaheen said the reports were "all fake news".

"I can assure you there are many reports by our opponents claiming what is not based on realities," he added.

As the UK and US continue to lead evacuation efforts at Kabul airport, Shaheen warned that there would be "consequences" if the August 31 deadline for troop withdrawal is surpassed. 

"It's a red line," he said. "President Biden announced that on 31 August they would withdraw all their military forces. So if they extend it that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that.

 "If the US or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations - the answer is no. Or there would be consequences." 

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