Locals and Kabul authorities vow revenge after woman is killed by Taliban

The Taliban claimed the woman committed adultery. A video showed some 150 men perched on a hill to watch the execution praising the attackers.

via Reuters TV/Reuters
Men in the crowd watch as a man, who Afghan officials say is a member of the Taliban, fires his rifle at a woman accused of adultery during her execution in a village outside Kabul in this still image taken from undated footage released July 7.

Sayed Jalal furrowed his eyebrows in anger as he vowed to avenge the public execution of a woman in front of a large crowd not far from Kabul, brazen violence that spurred shock and sharp condemnation from Afghan authorities and the United States.

The Taliban denied involvement in the killing in Parwan Province, in which an unnamed woman's head and body were riddled with bullets at close range in punishment for alleged adultery.

Authorities in Kabul directly blamed the Islamist group.

"We will take revenge for this. Their brutality and such inhumane acts are why we hate the Taliban," said the shopkeeper in Charikar, provincial capital of Parwan about 25 km (15 miles) south of Shinwari, where the killing took place.

The execution was recorded in a three-minute video, obtained by Reuters, which shows a woman being repeatedly shot in front of around 150 men perched on a hill, who cheer and praise the attackers, calling them "mujahideen," a term the Taliban call themselves.

NATO's top commander in Afghanistan, US General John Allen, called the killing "an atrocity of unspeakable cruelty."

Others in Charikar, from where a dirt road leads to Shinwari through rough terrain, lamented what they described as the Taliban's increasing sway over their once relatively peaceful area, about an hour's drive west from Kabul.

"The Taliban are creating fear and trying to rule us through terrorism but they will never succeed," said Charikar resident Najibullah, prompting approving nods from a crowd of men who had formed around him in a busy outdoor market.

The Taliban dismissed the claims: "We have no operational update about this," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said. Parwan's governor Basir Salangi said the Taliban carried out the killing in his province eight days ago.

Despite the presence of more than 130,000 foreign troops and 300,000 Afghan soldiers and police, the Taliban have managed to resurge beyond their traditional bastions of the south and east, extending their reach into once more peaceful areas like Parwan.

"This was a brutal act against the Afghan people by the Taliban," Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Seddiqi said. 

"They will be punished as they were punished 10 years ago and we will continue our struggle to eliminate them," he told Reuters, referring to their ousting from power in late 2001 by US-backed Afghan forces after an austere five-year rule.

The condemnation came on the day of a major donors' summit in Tokyo, where $16 billion in development aid was pledged for Afghanistan over the next four years as they try to prevent it from sliding back into chaos once most foreign troops have left by the end of 2014.

In a declaration by summit participants, the importance of promoting women's rights was stressed repeatedly.

The US Embassy in Kabul, condemning the public execution in the "strongest possible terms," said the hard-won gains of Afghan women made in the last 10 years must be protected.

But Shah Jahan Yazdanparast, head of women's affairs in Parwan, which is connected to the Kabul ministry, said such naked violence as the woman's execution "will only increase our fear and concern as women in Afghanistan." 

Afghan women have won back basic rights in education, voting and work since the Taliban were ousted from power but fears are mounting both at home and abroad that such freedoms could be traded away as Kabul seeks peace talks with the group.

"Afghan women and girls were looking to the international community to protect the progress they have made in the last decade and they have been let down," Oxfam Afghanistan's head of policy and advocacy, Louise Hancock, said on Sunday after the close of the Tokyo summit.

Violence against women has increased sharply in the past year, according to Afghanistan's independent human rights commission. Activists say there is waning interest in women's rights on the part of President Hamid Karzai's government.

Authorities blamed the Taliban for the stoning to death of a young couple in northern Kunduz province two years ago in a crowded bazaar, days after a pregnant widow was flogged and killed in western Baghdis province. The Taliban denied involvement.

(Additional reporting and writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.