The Taliban saw to the public stoning of two Afghans accused of having a love affair on Sunday. The killings occurred in German-controlled Kunduz province and have cast doubt on talk of a quick pullout from the country.
A man and woman have been stoned to death in German-controlled northern Afghanistan after being accused by the Taliban of having a love affair.
A local official said the 23-year-old woman and 28-year-old man were killed by Taliban in Mullah Quli village in Kunduz province late on Sunday.
Recent months have seen the Taliban penetrate relatively peaceful regions such as Kunduz, in which around 4,000 German troops are stationed.
German media seized on the stoning as a sign that there is no end in sight for foreign troops, including the German armed forces, the Bundeswehr, in Afghanistan.
"The stoning of the young couple on Sunday, right under the eyes of the Bundeswehr, shows that the nightmare is still a long way from ending," wrote daily newspaper the Rhein-Neckar Zeitung. "This demonstrative stoning can be understood as another challenge by the Taliban, who are saying, 'we are still not defeated.'"
The Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper took a similar line on the stoning: "Above all else, this is a matter of [the Taliban] offering a demonstration to the West. In areas around Kunduz, in the middle of the German area of responsibility, the Islamists are showing what they are capable of."
The Westfalen-Blatt daily had this to say: "The stoning shows what is really wrong. To withdraw would be to abandon Afghanistan to itself and its terrorists. And so the political dreams of an elegant withdrawal, such as those held in Germany, must measure up to reality."
Taliban 'increasingly brutal'
Human rights group Amnesty International said the stoning was the first it could confirm to have taken place in Afghanistan since the Taliban were overthrown by the US-led invasion in late 2001.
Earlier this month, the Taliban publicly flogged and then killed a pregnant widow for alleged "adultery" in western Badghis province.
"The Taliban and other insurgent groups are growing increasingly brutal in their abuses against Afghans," Sam Zarifi, Amnesty's Asia-Pacific director, said Monday in a statement.
The stoning came two days after Afghanistan's highest Islamic religious body called on the government of President Hamid Karzai to more strictly enforce physical Shariah punishments as an overture to the Taliban in an effort to help end the conflict that has been raging for nearly nine years.
Under the Taliban, Shariah punishments included public stoning, amputations and lashing.
"The Afghan government and the Council of Ulema must condemn the use of stoning following this sickening Taliban execution," said Sam Zarifi. "Afghan leaders must stand against stoning and other appalling human rights abuses masquerading as 'justice,' no matter how much pressure they are under to deal with the Taliban."
Author: Darren Mara (AP/AFP)
Editor: Rob Turner