Afghanistan: Taliban stone couple to death for adultery

The Guardian

Taliban forces have stoned a couple to death for adultery in a public execution. With Nato and UN officials in Kabul poring over the latest Taliban proposal to establish a joint commission to investigate civilian casualties, officials in the north of the country were detailing a killing that Amnesty International described as the first confirmed stoning in the country since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. Militants ordered the stoning after a married man and a single woman in Dasht-e-Archi district, Kunduz province, were accused of eloping.

Amnesty International called the stoning a "heinous crime" that showed the Taliban and other insurgent groups "are growing increasingly brutal in their abuses against Afghans".

"Amnesty International has warned that the Afghan government should not sacrifice human rights, particularly the rights of women and minorities, in the name of reconciliation with the Taliban and other insurgent groups," said a spokesman for the group.

The Taliban's sincerity in asking for the joint inquiry into civilian deaths has been called into question by the latest figures for civilian casualties which blame militants for the vast majority of the carnage.

A UN report last week said anti-government forces were responsible for 76% of civilian casualties, which totalled 1,271 deaths and 1,997 injured in the first six months of the year. Just 12% of casualties were caused by Nato or other pro-government forces.

The Taliban also stand accused of conducting a killing campaign targeting government supporters. The UN says that on average militants murder one person every day. The list of targets is long: local officials, military translators, police, teachers, women going to work and girls going to school. Today alone a government official and policeman were gunned down in western Afghanistan and five civilians were killed when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb.

Against that, the new US commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, has stressed the need to reduce civilian casualties "to an absolute minimum".

The stoning episode will cause further disquiet. The woman, Sadiqa, was 20 years old and engaged to another man, said Kunduz provincial police chief, General Abdul Raza Yaqoubi. Her lover, 28-year-old Qayum, left his wife to run away with her, and the two had holed up in a friend's house five days ago, said district government head, Mohammad Ayub Aqyar.

They were discovered by Taliban operatives on Sunday and stoned to death in front a crowd of about 150 men, Aqyar said.

A spokesman for the provincial government also condemned the act. "It is against all human rights and international conventions," said Mabubullah Sayedi. "There was no court. It was cruel."

Associated Press