Four men were hanged in Kabul
AP, August 8, 2001
By KATHY GANNON, Associated Press Writer
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Crowds gawked and children peeked around their elders for a glance at the bodies dangling from cranes, as four men were hanged in Kabul's main square Wednesday, a rare public execution by Afghanistan's ruling Taliban.
The four men were found guilty of carrying out a series of bomb attacks last year for the opposition that killed one person.
According to report, those hanged included Gul Afghan s/o Shair Afghan, Aeeda Muhammad alias Abdul s/o Amir Muhammad, Muhammad Zahir s/o Nawab, of Sakardara district of Kabul province and Ibadullah s/o Habibullah of Najrab district of Kapisa province.
Before 1999, public punishments in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan were an almost weekly occurrence. They now have become a rarity. It was only the second time the Taliban have executed opposition supporters since they gained control of most of Afghanistan in 1996.
Turbaned Taliban soldiers with Kalashnikov rifles manned a barricade around the town square, redirecting traffic and keeping spectators at a distance as the bodies dangled from cranes.
Horns blared and cyclists careened through crowds of bearded men straining to see the bodies. Small boys ducked through the arms of bigger men to get a glimpse. At 8 a.m., the bodies were untied, soldiers withdrew and the crowd surged forward for a closer look.
An older man stroked his gray unkempt beard and praised the hanging.
"Who is worse off? The innocent people they killed or these four stupid men?" asked Mohammed Abdullah. "This is a lesson to the young people."
But many of the young boys were repulsed by the scene.
"Of course I am afraid. Tonight I will see them in my dreams," said Nasim Ahmed, barely 12, as he stared down at his bright orange running shoes.
"I am very upset because these people are human beings," said Zair Ahmed, a sixth grader on his way to school, wearing the mandatory black turban and clutching a handful of books. "They are our countrymen. We should feel pity for them."
The Taliban, who espouse a harsh brand of Islamic law, have imposed public punishments for crimes against their laws. Murderers are executed, the limbs of thieves are amputated and those found guilty of minor offenses are often publicly beaten.
Taliban authorities said the four men who were hanged confessed to taking part in a series of bombs planted last year at foreign ministry, a local hotel and near the education ministry. The blasts killed one person and injured dozens of others.
The Taliban, who rule 95 percent of Afghanistan, blamed the explosions on the opposition, who are led by ousted president Burhanuddin Rabbani and his military chief Ahmed Shah Massood.
Public punishments were also carried out in Kabul before the Taliban took power. During Rabbani's four-year rule, gallows were constructed in a public park and two men were hanged.
Wednesday's hanging took place in the same square where the Taliban hanged Afghanistan's former communist president, Najibullah, five years ago.
Najibullah's communist regime was overthrown in 1992 by U.S.-backed insurgents, who allowed him to remain in Kabul under U.N. protection.
But after the Taliban overran Kabul in September 1996, they dragged Najibullah and his brother from their U.N. sanctuary, tortured and hanged them. The brothers were accused of murdering thousands of people during the 1979-1989 occupation of Afghanistan by the former Soviet Union.
Some residents criticized the return of public executions.
"These men who planted these bombs should have been punished - but in secret, not here in the public square," said Ali Jan. "In Afghanistan there is no work, nothing for people to do and that is why everyone is coming here to look. It is very bad for us."
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