Communist era Afghans 'dead'
Thursday, 15 February, 2001, 14:57 GMT
Thousands of Afghans who went missing during the period of communist rule from 1978 to 1992 have been declared dead.
The supreme leader of Afghanistan's ruling Taleban movement, Mullah Omar, read the decree himself.
He said any property left behind by the missing should given to their heirs, and that any women who were now widows were free to remarry in line with Sharia law.
Mulla Omar said the decree followed a thorough investigation by Islamic clerics summoned by the Supreme Court in Kabul.
There are no exact figures for the numbers who died during the communist era.
After the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, pro-Moscow factions continued to rule Afghanistan until they were toppled by mujahideen resistance groups in 1992.
Thousands more died in the civil war which followed.
From the newsroom of the BBC World Service
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