Kabul: Twelve people, including three women, were publicly flogged in front of a large audience at an Afghan football stadium. This is reportedly the second time in a month that the Islamist organisation has performed public beatings. The action might portend a return to the rigid policies that marked the Taliban's prior rule in the 1990s.
Omar Mansoor Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman for Logar region in eastern Afghanistan, where the lashings happened, said that all three women were freed after they were punished. Some of the men were jailed, he said, but it is not clear how many.
The men and women received between 21 and 39 lashes each. The maximum number a person can receive is 39, another Taliban official said. Nineteen people were also punished last week in a similar flogging in Takhar province in northern Afghanistan, reports say.
The flogging in Logar province comes a week after the Taliban's supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, ordered judges to enforce punishments for certain crimes in line with the group's strict reading of Islamic Sharia law.
This interpretation of Islamic law includes public executions, public amputations and stoning - although exact crimes and corresponding punishments have not been officially defined by the Taliban.
The supreme leader's order is the most recent indication that the Taliban, who promised to rule more moderately when they came to power last year, is adopting a tougher stance on rights and freedoms.
During their rule from 1996-2001, the Taliban were condemned for regularly carrying out punishments in public, including floggings and executions at the national stadium in Kabul. The government also promised that it would not subject women to such brutal repression in the future. However, since the group came back to power, women's freedoms have been severely restricted, and some have even been physically assaulted for calling for rights.