According to a spokesman for the Taliban government’s Foreign Ministry, the bodies of 18 Afghan migrants who died while being smuggled into Bulgaria were returned to Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, on Wednesday.

Bulgarian investigators discovered the remains in a concealed compartment behind a load of timber in the back of a truck abandoned on a motorway near Sofia in February.

They confirmed that all 18 had perished as a result of suffocation. In connection with the fatalities, Bulgarian authorities apprehended seven persons. The crime, according to the director of Bulgaria’s National Investigation Service, is the country’s deadliest involving immigration.

According to the director, Borislav Sarafov, the refugees were “pressed against each other like in a tin can,” causing their slow and horrible deaths. He called it “an extraordinary human tragedy.”

Zia Ahmad Takal, the ministry’s deputy spokesperson in Kabul, said his government paid for the bodies’ repatriation. He blamed their delayed return on the Bulgarian legal process, as well as the “cruel banking restrictions” placed on Afghanistan after the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021, following the withdrawal of US and NATO forces from the nation.

Takal stated that the bodies were returned to the family and warned Afghans not to put their lives in danger by traveling through illegal smuggling routes.

Another 34 Afghan refugees on the same truck made it through the ordeal, but they were exhausted and frostbitten. They had crossed into Bulgaria from Turkiye in the hope of reaching Western Europe.

Since the Taliban assumed control of Afghanistan, they have enforced policies based on their interpretation of Islamic law.

They have prohibited women from entering public venues and girls’ education beyond the sixth grade. The international community has condemned the Taliban’s activities, further isolating the country as it faces an economic crisis and a drought danger.



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