Innocent civilians have been taken from their homes and killed by the Taliban as the terror organisation makes its way across Afghanistan.
Huge numbers of people have already fled the country’s second city of Kandahar as fighting in the streets rages on.
Around 100 people have been killed in the past two weeks with another 300 missing, according to local estimates.
Amid the feared dead is Nazar Mohammad, a well known comedian in the area, who was pictured backed up against a tree and then on the ground with his throat cut.
Taliban fighters have been making big territorial gains for the past weeks ahead of the US Army leaving on August 31.
They are now said to be going from house to house in Kandahar looking for government workers, The Sun reports.
The war-torn country saw a 47% increase in the number of all civilians killed and wounded in violence in the first half of 2021, compared to the same period last year, according to the report.
“I implore the Taliban and Afghan leaders to take heed of the conflict’s grim and chilling trajectory and its devastating impact on civilians,” said Deborah Lyons, the U.N. secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan.
President Joe Biden announced in April that U.S. troops would withdraw by the start of September, angering the Taliban who had expected the withdrawal to be completed by May.
Since the decision, violence has risen sharply with the militants launching major offensives, taking districts and important border crossings and encircling or closing in on several provincial capitals, including Kandahar.
Almost all U.S. troops, except those protecting the embassy in Kabul and the capital’s airport, have left the country.
The rival Afghan sides have held peace talks in Doha but progress has been slow.
Kandahar province has traditionally been a Taliban stronghold and fighting there has been heavy in recent weeks with the insurgents capturing the main border crossing with Pakistan in the south, at Spin Boldak.
Reuters journalist Danish Siddiqui was killed in the area last Friday while covering a clash between Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters.
Families have left their homes in large numbers and fled north towards Kabul, or found shelter in refugee camps.
Officials estimate that more than 150,000 civilians have been displaced in southern Kandahar, where the Taliban was formed in the 1990s.
Taliban insurgents are gaining control of more and more territory, which the Pentagon estimated on Wednesday now extends to over half of half Afghanistan’s district centers.
The group’s swift territorial gains are rattling Afghans just as the United States withdraws from a war that succeeded in punishing al Qaeda following its Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington but failed to deliver anything close to peace for Afghanistan.
The United States has continued to carry out air strikes to support Afghan government forces that have been under pressure from the Taliban.
Biden has promised to provide financial assistance to Afghan forces and to redouble diplomatic efforts to revive stalled peace talks.
On Friday the President authorized up to $100 million from an emergency fund to meet “unexpected urgent” refugee needs stemming from the situation in Afghanistan, including for Afghan special immigration visa applicants.
For years, the U.S. military has been trying to get Afghan troops off of far-flung checkpoints – static positions that can easily be overrun by Taliban forces.