Reuters, Oct.16, 2002

Afghan police beat musicians defying ban

KABUL - Police beat two Afghan musicians and threatened to bomb their office for violating a local ban on music reminiscent of that imposed by the former Taliban regime, a state-controlled newspaper reported today.

The Anis Daily quoted the musicians as saying the incident occurred on Monday night at a wedding party in Shakardara district, about 9 miles from Kabul.

It said policemen from the district arrived at the party late in the evening and attacked and beat musicians Masroor and Noor Agha.

"They took us to Shakardara's police chief Gulbahar Khan who threatened us, tied our feet, caned us, poured water on us and threw us in the basement," it quoted Masroor, who is in his mid-20s, as saying.

Elders of Shakardara stepped in the next morning to secure the musicians' release and to stop police smashing their traditional musical instruments, the paper said.

Another musician told the daily that one of the policemen had threatened to bomb the group's office in Kabul.

The paper said the musicians had complained to Interior Minister Taj Mohammad Wardak and asked him take action against the police chief.

The police chief could not be reached for comment and interior ministry officials refused to discuss the incident.

Khan is a commander of the Northern Alliance that forms the backbone of President Hamid Karzai's government.

The alliance has imposed a ban on women singing on state television since coming to power, but other restrictions in force under the Taliban have been relaxed.

Many Afghans are music fans and live bands at weddings are an old tradition. The Taliban banned all music during its five-year rule saying it was un-Islamic.

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