The bodies of four men who were killed after allegedly carrying out a kidnapping in the western city of Herat have been displayed by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
A journalist in the city told CNN that a group of four men abducted a merchant and his son a few days ago in Herat province.
The merchant and his son were freed, and the kidnappers were killed by the Taliban. According to the journalist and another source, the kidnappers’ bodies were then hanged in four different locations throughout Herat city on Saturday.
“Four people were killed and one armed member of the Islamic Emirate was wounded in a clash in the 14th district of Herat,” Shir Ahmed Ummar Muhajir, the Deputy Governor of Herat, told a local journalist.
One man hanged from a crane in a central square in Herat, according to video and images. A crowd gathered to see the body, according to a witness.
The men “were shot during the operation and then were hanged for people to learn a lesson,” a student and activist in the city told CNN.
The bodies of four alleged kidnappers were dumped in a central square in Mazar-i-Sharif earlier this month. After abducting several children, they were said to have been killed in a shootout with the Taliban.
The events come after reports of the Taliban carrying out harsh crackdowns across Afghanistan since seizing power in August.
While the militant group has stated that their rule will be more moderate than it was during their previous tenure in power, there have been numerous reports since then indicating that the Taliban has inflicted severe violence on Afghans. Journalists have been detained and assaulted, whips have been used against women protesting, and gunfire and beatings have been used to quell dissent at Kabul’s largest anti-Taliban demonstration to date.
The public display of the alleged kidnappers’ bodies in Herat is further evidence of the Taliban’s increasingly hardline governance, and the news comes just a week after world leaders debated the future of democracy — and the rights of women and girls — under the Taliban at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The Taliban asked for representation at the United Nations General Assembly on Monday, instructing the UN to replace Ghulam Isaczai, an appointee of Afghanistan’s former democratic government, with their own representative. Since then, a diplomatic battle has erupted over who will represent the country at the United Nations.
Meanwhile, the Taliban has denied claims that Afghan girls and women will be barred from secondary education, but the militant group has not stated when they will be allowed to return to school, despite encouraging boys to do so.