Three dead as gunmen, in name of Taliban, attack Afghan wedding over music

But hardline Islamist government says 3 attackers were not acting on its behalf; 2 arrested and will be brought to trial, 3rd suspect on the run

FILE - In this Aug. 19, 2021 file photo, Taliban fighters display their flag on patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 19, 2021 file photo, Taliban fighters display their flag on patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)

KABUL, Afghanistan — Gunmen presenting themselves as Taliban attacked a wedding in eastern Afghanistan to stop music being played and killed at least three people, the government said Saturday.

Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said two of the three attackers had been arrested, and denied they were acting on behalf of the Islamist movement.

“Last night, at the wedding of Haji Malang Jan in Shamspur Mar Ghundi village of Nangarhar, three people who introduced themselves as Taliban, entered the proceedings and that the music stop playing,” he said.

“As a result of firing, at least three people have been killed and several others have been injured.”

“Two suspects have been taken into custody by the Taliban in connection with the incident and one who escaped is still being pursued,” he said.

“The perpetrators of the incident caught, who have used the name of the Islamic Emirate to carry out their personal feud, have been handed over to face Sharia law,” Mujahid added.

Qazi Mullah Adel, spokesman for the Taliban governor in Nangarhar province, confirmed the incident but did not provide details. A relative of the victims said the Taliban fighters had opened fire while music was being played.

Music was banned the last time the Taliban ruled Afghanistan and, while the new government has not yet issued such a decree, its leadership still frowns on its use in entertainment and sees it as a breach of Islamic law.

“The young men were playing music in a separate room and three Taliban fighters came and opened fire on them. The injuries of the two wounded are serious,” the witness told reporters.

“In the ranks of the Islamic Emirate no one has the right to turn anyone away from music or anything, only to try to persuade them. That is the main way,” Mujahid had told a news conference earlier.

“If anyone kills someone by himself, even if they are our personnel, that is a crime and we will introduce them to the courts and they will face the law.”

A before the wedding attack gunmen on a motorcycle brandished small arms and fired on a broadcast journalist in his car in the Afghan capital of Kabul, lightly wounding him.

Ali Reza Sharifi, a journalist for Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, survived the late Friday night attack, Taliban deputy spokesman Bilal Karimi told The Associated Press.

“We are investigating to find the perpetrator,” he said. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

The assault comes just days after an Afghan media watchdog reported more than 30 instances of violence and threats of violence against Afghan journalists over the last two month, with nearly 90% committed by the Taliban.

Sharifi told the AP he was driving home when two men riding a motorcycle opened fire on his car. “A bullet fired from the left just touched my lip,” he said, adding that “shredded window pieces hit my left eye.”

Pictures of Sharifi’s car shared on social media show at least two bullet holes on one of the car’s windows. “They started firing from the front and I escaped to the back seat,” he said.

Since the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan in late August, three journalists have been killed in Afghanistan.

The previous Taliban government between 1996 and 2001 imposed a very strict interpretation of Islamic law and harsh public punishments.

But, since returning to power in mid-August after overthrowing the US-backed government, the Taliban — seeking international recognition and an end to sanctions — has tried to show a more moderate face.

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