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Taliban carries out first public execution since taking over Afghanistan last year

In a further indication of the Islamist authorities’ intention of resuming previous hardline policies, officials execute man convicted of murder

Taliban fighters chant slogans during a celebration marking the first anniversary of the withdrawal of US-led troops from Afghanistan, in front of the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Taliban fighters chant slogans during a celebration marking the first anniversary of the withdrawal of US-led troops from Afghanistan, in front of the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — The Taliban authorities on Wednesday executed an Afghan convicted of killing another man, the first public execution since the ultra-conservative former insurgents took over Afghanistan last year, a spokesman said.

The announcement underscored the intentions of Afghanistan’s new rulers to continue hardline policies implemented since they took over the country in August 2021 and to stick to their interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia.

The execution took place in the western Farah province before hundreds of spectators and many top Taliban officials, including from the capital Kabul and the province, according to Zabihullah Mujahid, the top Taliban government spokesman.

The decision to carry out the punishment was “made very carefully,” Mujahid said, following approval by three of the country’s highest courts and the Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada.

The executed man, identified as Tajmir from the Herat province, was convicted of killing another man five years ago and stealing his motorcycle and mobile phone. The victim was identified as Mustafa from the neighboring Farah province. Many Afghan men use only one name.

Taliban security forces had arrested Tajmir after the victim’s family accused him of the crime, said a statement from Mujahid, the spokesman. The statement did not say when the arrest took place but added that Tajmir had purportedly confessed to the killing.

During the previous Taliban rule of the country in the late 1990s, the group carried out public executions, floggings and stoning of those convicted of crimes in Taliban courts.

After they overran Afghanistan in 2021, in the final weeks of the US and NATO forces’ pullout from the country after 20 years of war, the Taliban had initially promised to be more moderate and allow for women’s and minority rights.

Afghan women walk through the old market as a Taliban fighter stands guard, in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan, May 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Instead, they have restricted rights and freedoms, including imposing a ban on girls’ education beyond the sixth grade. They have also carried out public lashings across different provinces, punishing several men and women accused of theft, adultery or running away from home.

The former insurgents have struggled in their transition from warfare to governing amid an economic downturn and the international community’s withholding of official recognition.

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