Taliban, Qaeda militants among four Afghans hanged

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan has executed four men, including three linked to deadly attacks by Taliban and al Qaeda insurgents, a state newspaper said on Wednesday.

The four men were hanged inside a prison in Kabul on Tuesday, bringing to nine the number of people executed in Afghanistan in the past week since President Hamid Karzai signed orders to carry out their death sentences.

About 120 more Afghans are on death row waiting for Karzai to sign their death warrants, a senior judge said on Tuesday.

Three of those executed on Tuesday were behind attacks which included the killing of female election workers and other raids in which scores of people were killed or wounded in eastern Afghanistan four years ago, the Anis daily said.

The fourth was a criminal, it said.

A Supreme Court judge confirmed the latest executions, but did not give any more details. Five other men were executed this week for murder, rape and abduction.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay said she was dismayed about the recent and pending executions, especially because Karzai’s government has acknowledged the Afghan judicial system has serious shortcomings.

The European Union and Norway expressed also regret over the killings and called on the government to stop any future executions.

“It is with deep regret that the EU and Norway have learned of the resumption of executions in Afghanistan since the 8th November,” the EU said in the statement.

“The European member states and Norway make an urgent appeal to the president and the government of Afghanistan to halt any possible further executions and … to re-establish a moratorium on the death penalty,” it said.

In October 2007, 14 men were killed by firing squad in Kabul prison for a variety of crimes, the last executions carried out in Afghanistan.

Crimes such as kidnapping, rape and killing have increased sharply in Afghanistan in recent years.

The Taliban, ousted in a U.S.-led invasion in 2001, carried out public executions for similar crimes.

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