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Taliban hangs bodies of ‘kidnappers’ in Herat – at least one claimed to be
former government security personnel

Afghan Witness’s OSINT team has geolocated three bodies of alleged kidnappers that were publicly displayed by the Taliban, and also spoke to the friend of one of the individuals killed - who is reportedly former Afghan military personnel.


25 Feb 2022

Warning: this article contains graphic details. It also features photographs of the bodies that were hung, which AW has made efforts to censor.

On the evening of February 21st, according to Taliban sources, three alleged kidnappers were killed during clashes in Herat city. The bodies of the three kidnappers were then hung in different parts of the city and publicly displayed for more than 24-hours.

Afghan Witness (AW) has geolocated the displayed bodies of the three alleged kidnappers killed by the Taliban. The first body was hung in Bekr Abad Square, the second one on the gate of Kandahar Square, and the third person was hung from a crane near Chowk Gulha.

Figure 1, above: AW geolocations of where two of the bodies were hung in Herat.

Figure 2: geolocation identified as Bekr Abad Square, Herat.

Figure 3: geolocation identified as gate of Kandahar Square, Herat.

AW also geolocated the third body that was hung from a crane near Chowk Gulha, in Herat:

Figure 4: Geolocation near Chowk Gulha, Herat, where the third body was publicly displayed from a crane.

Figure 5: Geolocation near Chowk Gulha, Herat, where the third body was publicly displayed from a crane.

According to social media posts and a journalist from TOLO news, at least one of the alleged kidnappers killed by the Taliban was former military personnel in the Afghan National Army. Social media posts, which names the man Mahboub Shah, include photographs of him in military uniform.

AW has spoken to friends of Mahboub, including a journalist now living outside the country, who confirmed Mahboub had served in the military and was previously responsible for the security of the former governor of Herat province; he also served as the head of logistics in an Afghan military base in the Ghorian district of Herat. They cast doubt on the Taliban’s claims he could have been involved in kidnapping.

Images above: Mahboub in military uniform, taken from social media (photo 1; photo 2)

Reports of disappearances and extrajudicial killings of former government security personnel are frequent and widespread across the country. In November of last year, a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) estimated that more than 100 former Afghan security forces have been killed by the Taliban or have disappeared since Taliban forces seized control. HRW added that the Taliban have also used employment records left behind by the former government to identify people for arrest and execution.

However, it is unusual for Taliban punishments to be carried out in public, meaning there is often limited material for verification. It is notable that the last verified example was also in Herat, on 25th September 2021, when Taliban publicly displayed the bodies of three men hanging from cranes. AW geolocated and verified videos of the incident (GRAPHIC), which was covered by media at the time.

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