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Executions come amid peace process effort

Published By United Press International
KABUL, Afghanistan, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- The latest executions of Taliban prisoners in Afghanistan come even as President Hamid Karzai's government seeks to resume peace effort with insurgents.

The New York Times reported the Wednesday executions of six Taliban prisoners won support from some ethnic groups as being necessary to fight terrorism and crimes, but some influential politicians expressed concern about their impact on the peace effort with the Taliban.

The six who were hanged for terrorist acts were among 16 prisoners sentenced to death. The executions, along with eight others executed the previous day for rape, murder and other crimes, brought to 14 the number put to death so far.

The executions point to Karzai's effort to show his opposition to terrorism even as he seeks to bring the Taliban into his peace effort, the report said.

"These criminals trampled Sharia law and the law of the country and have committed horrifying and terrifying crimes against our internal security and against our people," the council of ministers said in a statement Wednesday.

Nasrullah Stanekzai, legal adviser to Karzai, said all steps had been taken to ensure due process, the Times reported.

Georgette Gagnon, Afghanistan representative for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, however, pointed to deficiencies in the Afghan judicial proceedings, the newspaper said.

The United Nations last year had noted the Afghan judicial system accepts confessions, including those induced through torture.

The Times said Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid has appealed to rights advocates to protest Wednesday's executions, claiming those killed were prisoners of war.

The Human Rights Watch also criticized the executions.

"President Hamid Karzai should stop future executions and commit to a formal moratorium," the group's Asia director, Brad Adams, said.

Earlier Wednesday, a Taliban suicide bomber killed three Afghan private security guards in an attack in Kabul's diplomatic neighborhood.
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