The Taliban has displayed four bodies of alleged kidnappers, and hung one of them from a crane parked in a city square in Afghanistan’s Herat, with one commander saying it was meant to deter “criminals”.
Resident Mohammad Nazir said he had been shopping for food near Herat’s Mostofiat Square on Saturday when he heard a loudspeaker announcement calling for people’s attention.
“When I stepped forward, I saw they had brought a body in a pick-up truck, then they hung it up on a crane,” he was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.
Taliban officials initially brought four bodies to the central square in the western city of Herat, then moved three of them to other parts of the city for public display, said Wazir Ahmad Seddiqi, who runs a pharmacy on the edge of the square.
Taliban officials announced that the four were caught taking part in a kidnapping earlier on Saturday and were killed by police, Seddiqi said.
An Associated Press news agency video showed crowds gathering around the crane and peering up at the body as some men chanted.
“The aim of this action is to alert all criminals that they are not safe,” a Taliban commander who did not identify himself told the AP in an on-camera interview conducted in the square.
Ziaulhaq Jalali, a Taliban-appointed district police chief in Herat, said Taliban members rescued a father and son who had been abducted by four kidnappers after an exchange of gunfire.
He said a Taliban fighter and a civilian were wounded by the kidnappers, and that the kidnappers were killed in crossfire.
Since the Taliban overran Kabul on August 15 and seized control of the country, Afghans and the world have been watching to see whether they will recreate their harsh rule of the late 1990s, which included public stoning and limb amputation of alleged criminals, some of which took place in front of large crowds at a stadium.
Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, one of the founders of the Taliban and the chief enforcer of its strict rule of Afghanistan during the 1990s, told AP this week that the armed movement will once again carry out executions and amputations of hands, though perhaps not in public.
“Everyone criticised us for the punishments in the stadium, but we have never said anything about their laws and their punishments,” Turabi said. “No one will tell us what our laws should be. We will follow Islam and we will make our laws on the Quran.”
The group’s leaders remain entrenched in a deeply conservative, hardline worldview, even if they are embracing technological changes, such as video and mobile phones.
President Joe Biden’s administration signalled on Friday that the United States would not tolerate the Taliban’s return to their past punishment methods.
“We condemn in the strongest terms reports of reinstating amputations and executions of Afghans,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
“The acts the Taliban are talking about here would constitute clear gross abuses of human rights, and we stand firm with the international community to hold perpetrators of these – of any such abuses – accountable.”