An Australian man travelling on a bus has been murdered by Taliban militants in Afghanistan. Sayed Habib Musawi, an Afghan-Australian dual citizen, was allegedly pulled off a bus by members of the Middle-Eastern extremist group. His body was later found by the side of the road. According to reports, Musawi was the only passenger to be forcefully removed from the bus, after he informed his detainees that he was an Australian citizen.
Musawi, 56, who grew up in Afghanistan and immigrated to Australia by sea in 2000, lived in Sydney’s western suburbs and held a valid Australian passport. He leaves behind a family and four children. According to his family he had been visiting relatives in the eastern province of Ghazni. He was travelling back to Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital and the country’s largest city, when he was dragged from the bus.
According to Ghazni’s Deputy Governor Mohammad Ali Ahmadi, local residents reported the incident, prompting government officials to launch an investigation into Musawi’s arrest. When it was found the body showed visible signs of torture before death, suggesting that Musawi was badly beaten by the Taliban members. His body also showed several visible bullet wounds and his hands were tied behind his back.
Ahmadi also voiced his opinion that Musawi had been murdered by the Taliban simply because he was from Australia. According to the Deputy Governor’s reports, it was not until after Musawi had told the Taliban militants who arrested him that he was visiting his family and that he was an Australian citizen that they dragged him from the bus and murdered him.
The province of Ghazni, which is located on the main highway between southern Afghanistan and Kabul, has been choked with Taliban activity in recent weeks. No longer suppressed by U.S. airstrikes, Taliban members have mobilized and are attacking military posts. Approximately 700 fighters are thought to be operating in the area.
Musawi’s death comes in the wake of several other atrocities committed by members of the Taliban militia, including the beheading of 15 civilians, most of them thought to be the family members of local police in the Ghazni area. Early Friday morning a car bomb was detonated in front of a police encampment, killing at least eight. These casualties bring the estimated death toll in Ghazni to 60, many of them civilians.
On Friday a Taliban spokesman reportedly stated that the militant group was intent on capturing the mountainous district of Ajrestan, which is thought to be the most strategically important area in the Ghazni district. A Taliban presence in the Ajrestan Mountains would provide an ideal base from which fighters could launch attacks on the main arterial road connecting Kabul to the southern city of Kandahar.
After a long political stand-off over the recent election process, Afghan security forces are suffering from low morale. With most foreign troops in Afghanistan preparing to withdraw by the end of the year, the presence of Taliban occupation constitutes a rapidly growing threat for the new, U.S.-backed Afghan government, led by President Ashraf Ghani.
While the family of Musawi has already been informed of his arrest on the bus and subsequent murder at the hands of Taliban militants, Australian officials are working hard to try to confirm the death. According to a spokesman from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Musawi’s murder will be difficult to confirm as the area in which he was allegedly killed is contested by Taliban forces.
By Mathew Channer