Warning: This story contains distressing details.
Recent events in Afghanistan are demonstrating that the ruling Taliban will not abandon the hardline views and tactics that have drawn past and present condemnation from the wider world.
On Saturday, the Taliban hanged a dead body from a crane in the main square of Herat, a city in western Afghanistan, both The Associated Press and Reuters reported.
Taliban authorities claimed the dead man was among a group of four alleged kidnappers who were shot dead.
Sher Ahmad Ammar, deputy governor of Herat, said the men had kidnapped a local businessman and his son and intended to take them out of the city when they were seen by patrols that had set up checkpoints around the city.
An exchange of gunfire ensued in which all four were killed, while one Taliban soldier was wounded.
“Their bodies were brought to the main square and hung up in the city as a lesson for other kidnappers,” he said.
The two kidnapping victims were released unharmed, he said.
Wazir Ahmad Seddiqi, who runs a pharmacy on the side of the square, told The Associated Press that four bodies were brought to the main square and three bodies were moved to other parts of the city for public display.
Reuters reported that no other bodies were visible, but social media posts said others were hung up in other parts of the city.
Comments from founding Taliban member
Earlier this week, Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, a Taliban founder and the chief enforcer of its harsh interpretation of Islamic law when they last ruled Afghanistan, told AP that the hardline movement will once again carry out executions and amputations of hands, though perhaps not in public.
Turabi dismissed outrage over the Taliban’s executions in the past, which sometimes took place in front of crowds at a stadium, and he warned the world against interfering with Afghanistan’s new rulers.
“Everyone criticized us for the punishments in the stadium, but we have never said anything about their laws and their punishments,” Turabi told AP, speaking in Kabul. “No one will tell us what our laws should be. We will follow Islam and we will make our laws on the Qur’an.”
The United States condemned Turabi’s comments, with U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price telling reporters punishments such as amputations and executions “would constitute clear gross abuses of human rights.”
A return to the past?
Since the Taliban overran Kabul on Aug. 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.
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.
Also on Saturday, a Taliban official said a roadside bomb hit a Taliban car in the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, wounding at least one person.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing. The Islamic State group affiliate, which is headquartered in eastern Afghanistan, has said it was behind similar attacks in Jalalabad last week that killed 12 people.
Taliban spokesperson Mohammad Hanif said the person wounded in the attack is a municipal worker.