The Taliban flogged three women and nine men in front of hundreds of spectators at a provincial sports stadium on Wednesday, in a sign that the religious extremist group is resuming the type of brutal punishment that was a hallmark of its rule in the 1990s.
The governor’s office of Logar province, located south of the capital Kabul, invited “respected scholars, mujahideen, elders, tribal chiefs and local people” to the stadium in Logar’s Pul Alam town. Invitations to the event, which will be held at 9 a.m., have been distributed through social media.
After being convicted of theft and adultery in a local court, those sentenced each received 21 to 39 lashes, a governor’s office official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to share details with the media.
The official said hundreds of people attended the flogging ceremony and photography and videography were prohibited.
The resumption of the practice underscored the Taliban’s commitment to a strict interpretation of Islamic law, or sharia.
“Sharia law is the only solution to Afghanistan’s problems and must be implemented,” Logar Deputy Governor Enayatullah Shuja said later in a statement about the floggings.
Such public outcry, as well as public executions and stonings for alleged crimes, were common during the first period of Taliban rule, from 1996 to 2001, when the militants were ousted by the US-led invasion.
After a 20-year insurgency, the Taliban returned to power in August 2021, coinciding with the withdrawal of US and other foreign troops from the country.
Immediately after taking over the country for the second time, the Taliban promised to become more moderate and allow the rights of women and minorities. Instead, they denied rights and freedoms, including banning girls from getting an education beyond the sixth grade.
The first confirmed public flogging since the Taliban took over last year took place on November 11, when 19 men and women received 39 lashes each for theft, adultery and running away.
Former rebels have struggled to transition from war to governance amid economic decline and a lack of official recognition by the international community.