HERAT, Afghanistan — The Taliban publicly flogged and then executed a pregnant Afghan widow by firing three shots into her head for alleged adultery, police said on Monday.
Bibi Sanubar, 35, was kept in captivity for three days before she was shot dead in a public trial on Sunday by a local Taliban commander in the Qadis district of the rural western province Badghis.
The Taliban accused Sanubar of having an "illicit affair" that left her pregnant. She was first punished with 200 lashes in public before being shot, deputy provincial police chief Ghulam Mohammad Sayeedi told AFP.
"She was shot in the head in public while she was still pregnant," Sayeedi said.
Sayeedi said a local Taliban commander, Mohammad Yousuf, carried out the execution before the woman's body was dumped in an area under government control.
The execution is a grim reminder of the Taliban's harsh six-year rule, from 1996 to 2001 in Afghanistan. The radical Islamists staged public stonings or lashings of those found to have committed adultery or sex outside marriage.
The then-Taliban government would also chop off the hands and feet of those accused of theft and robbery.
But a Taliban spokesman denied Monday that the militia was responsible for Sanubar's death.
"We have not done anything like that in Badghis or any other province," said Qari Yosuf Ahmadi, calling the report "propaganda" by foreigners and the Western-backed Afghan government.
The Taliban is not a unified national movement and small groups operate shadow government structures autonomously in pockets of the insurgent south.
The man who allegedly had an affair with Sanubar was not punished.
Head of Badghis provincial council Mohammad Nasir Nazaari confirmed the execution and said the Qadis district was entirely under Taliban control.
The deputy head of the religious council for western Afghanistan, Mohammad Kabaabiani, said the execution ran counter to Islamic principles.
Head of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission in western Afghanistan, Abdul Qadir Rahimi, condemned the killing.
"Any such trial is unacceptable and is a violation of human rights. All trials must take place in an authorised court observing every single measure of justice," said Rahimi.
Since their ouster in 2001, the hardline Taliban militants have executed many people they accused of spying for foreign forces, including at least one woman who was shot dead in Kandahar.
The insurgents last year publicly executed a young couple accused of eloping in Nimroz province, by firing squad in front of a mosque.
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