A mob of up to 300 armed men in eastern Afghanistan’s Nuristan province reportedly “lynched” a young couple. The mob allegedly forced police officers, who had arrested the married woman and her lover for eloping, to surrender the accused adulterers over to the angry horde.
“People said to the police, ‘Hand them over to us or we will raid the offices and break off relations with the government,’” warned Saeedullah Payendazai Kamparwal, the chairman of the Nuristan provincial council in Afghanistan, reports the New York Times (NYT).
The Taliban controls part of the eastern province of Nuristan, which sits on Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan, notes NYT.
Saheb Dad Hamdard, the head of the Nuristan Journalists’ Shura (council), “suggested that the authorities had acquiesced in turning the couple over to the families,” points out the Times.
However, Nuristan Governor Hafiz Abdul Qayoom claimed, “the police had no option but to surrender the couple to the mob,” reports the Times.
“If police had fired bullets at the people, a massacre could have happened,” declared Qayoom.
“We asked for additional police, but the road to the district was closed due to snow,” added Enayatullah, governor of the Nuristan district where the incident took place. “If the police had resisted more, a disaster would have taken place.”
Salam Khan, 22, a witness, told NYT that the female victim’s brothers killed the married woman, identified as 18-year-old Fatiha.
Khan also revealed that Fatiha’s unidentified husband executed the young man with whom the woman had eloped. The incident took place over the weekend.
Many Afghans only use one name. News outlets have identified the murdered young man as Hedayatullah, believed to be in his 20s.
The mob reportedly included various members of the Fatiha’s family. Fatiha claimed she eloped with Hedayatullah after her family forced her to marry against her will.
“It is common in many parts of rural Afghanistan for fathers to marry off their daughters without the daughter’s consent, even though both Afghan civil law and Islamic Shariah law require such consent,” reports NYT.
“The authorities, however, often side with the families, and honor killings in cases where the girl refuses the marriage are common, although rarely publicized,” it adds.
As of Monday, no one had been charged or arrested in connection with the couple’s murders in Nuristan and the three police officers wounded during the incident.
The mob reportedly outnumbered the police officers.
NYT reports, “The authorities said there were only 30 police officers at the station facing a mob of 250 to 300 heavily armed men.”
The armed crowd reportedly injured at least three police officers, one of them seriously.
Local police had arrested the couple on suspicion of adultery.
“Within hours an armed mob formed at the police station, led by [the young woman] Fatiha’s husband and his family, but also including her brothers and cousins,” the Times reports, citing local officials and witnesses.
Khaama Press (KP) described the deadly incident as a “lynching,” reporting that “a young man was lynched together with a married woman by the local residents… for eloping and taking shelter in a government shelter house.”
Nuristan Governor Qayoom noted that the angry attackers killed the couple after a savagely beating them, adding that the circumstances surrounding the so-called honor killing are under investigation
The recent incident is a testament to the dramatic rise in the rate of violence against women that continues to plague war-ravaged Afghanistan, particularly domestic violence, honor killings, and execution of women by the anti-government groups such as the Taliban.