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Tuesday, November 16, 1999 Published at 17:11 GMT

World: South Asia

Woman publicly executed in Kabul

The Taleban have imposed a strict interpretation of Islamic law

Thousands of spectators gathered in a sports stadium in the Afghan capital, Kabul, to see the first public execution of a woman in Afghanistan since the Taleban authorities came to power three years ago.

Witnesses said the woman was heavily veiled as she was led into the stadium and then shot by a Taleban soldier.

The woman, who had seven children, was found guilty two years ago of beating her husband to death with a hammer as he slept.

Her biography was read out by a Taleban officials, followed by her sentence.

She was then driven into the stadium in a pick-up truck. Two policewomen helped her off the vehicle and led her to a Taleban soldier, who was armed with an AK-47 assault rifle.

Witnesses say she tried to stand up but was forced down, and then shot at close range by the soldier.

Afterwards, people in the crowd shouted "God is great".

Packed stadium

A judge from the Kabul civil court said the death sentence had been approved by Taleban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.

"After a thorough investigation, she confessed her crime without any compulsion and was sentenced to death," Mawlawi Abdul Bari told French newsagency AFP.

The stadium was filled with men and included several women, many of whom had brought their children.

Local residents said they had never seen a woman being executed in public before.

"I have never heard this even from my fathers and forefathers," one resident, Abdul Hakim, said.

Another said she "deserved to die because she must have killed her husband while he was sleeping".

Harsh laws

The execution had been announced over the Taleban-controlled Radio Shariat on Monday.

The Taleban, which control about 90% of Afghanistan, have imposed a strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law since they took over the country three years ago.

Under the law, murderers are publicly executed by their victim's relatives. Adulterers are stoned to death and thieves have their limbs amputated.

Other, less severe crimes are punished by public flogging.

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