Taliban official: 20 men lashed in public in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Twenty people were lashed in public on Wednesday in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan as punishment for alleged adultery, theft, and other crimes, a provincial official said.

Afghanistan’s new authorities have set hardline policies since they took over the country in August 2021 that reflect their interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia.

Mohammad Qasim Riyaz, a Taliban-appointed spokesman for the governor’s office in southern Helmand province, said the lashings took place at the sports stadium in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand.

Riyaz said each man was lashed between 35 to 39 times, and the punishments were carried out before provincial Taliban officials, religious clerics, elders and local people.

An unspecified number of those punished also received prison terms according to their crimes., Riyaz said.

Wednesday’s lashings in Helmand come a week after the Taliban authorities executed an Afghan convicted of killing another man, the first public execution since the former insurgents returned to power last year.

The execution, carried out with an assault rifle by the victim’s father, took place in western Farah province before hundreds of spectators and many top Taliban officials, according to Zabihullah Mujahid, the top government spokesman. Some officials came from the capital of Kabul.

The execution drew international criticism. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said “the death penalty cannot be reconciled with full respect for the right to life,” spokeswoman Stephanie Tremblay said.

In comments last week, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the U.S. condemned the public execution. Price said the Taliban’s future relationship with Washington depended “largely on their actions when it comes to human rights.”

No foreign state has officially recognized the Taliban government that took over as U.S. and NATO troops withdrew last year. The Taliban formerly ruled Afghanistan before the U.S. invasion of 2001.

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