54°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Taliban hang body in public; signal return to past tactics

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban hanged a dead body from a crane parked in a city square in Afghanistan on Saturday in a gruesome display that signaled the hard-line group’s return to some of its brutal tactics of the past.

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 Saturday and were killed by police, Seddiqi said. Ziaulhaq Jalali, a Taliban-appointed district police chief in Herat, said later that 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.

An Associated Press 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.

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 re-create their harsh rule of the late 1990s, which included public stonings and limb amputations 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 harsh interpretation of Islamic law when they last ruled Afghanistan, told The Associated Press this week that the militant movement will once again carry out executions and amputations of hands, though perhaps not in public.

“Everyone criticized 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, hard-line worldview, even if they are embracing technological changes, such as video and mobile phones.

President Joe Biden’s administration signaled on Friday that the U.S. 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.”

Also Saturday, a roadside bomb hit a Taliban car in the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, wounding at least one person, a Taliban official said. 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.

The person wounded in the attack is a municipal worker, Taliban spokesperson Mohammad Hanif said.

THE LATEST
FDA OKs mixing COVID vaccines; backs Moderna, J&J boosters

U.S. regulators on Wednesday signed off on extending COVID-19 boosters to Americans who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine and said anyone eligible for an extra dose can get a brand different from the one they received initially.

Items linked to Brian Laundrie, potential remains found

Items believed to belong to Brian Laundrie and potential human remains were found Wednesday at a Florida wilderness park during the search for clues in the slaying of Gabby Petito during the couple’s cross-country road trip, according to law enforcement sources and a Laundrie family attorney.

 
US likely to authorize mix-and-match COVID booster shots

Federal regulators are expected to authorize the mixing and matching of COVID-19 booster doses this week in an effort to provide flexibility as the campaign for extra shots expands.

Flags lowered to honor Colin Powell, who died of COVID complications

Peggy Cifrino, Powell’s longtime aide, said he had also been treated over the past few years for multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that impairs the body’s ability to fight infection.

Fire crews make progress against Southern California blaze

More than 1,600 firefighters were battling the blaze in the Santa Ynez Mountains west of Santa Barbara on land and by air. They were able to stop its forward growth, and the blaze was 78% contained, federal officials said.

British Parliament member stabbed to death at public meeting

A long-serving member of Parliament was stabbed to death Friday during a meeting with constituents at a church in England, an attack that united Britain’s fractious politicians in shock and sorrow. A 25-year-old man was arrested at the scene.