April 13, 2009 / 4:43 PM / 11 years ago

Afghan Taliban execute eloping pair -- official

HERAT, Afghanistan, April 13 (Reuters) - Taliban militants publicly executed a man and girl on Monday for eloping when she was already engaged to marry someone else, an official said, in a sign of the grip the Islamists have over parts of Afghanistan.

Hashim Noorzai, head of Khash Rud district in southwestern Nimruz province, said the two were executed by gun shots in front of a crowd of villagers.

He said he had no details on how the Taliban had come to be involved in passing judgement on them but that much of the mainly desert district was under control of the militants.

Nimruz is a sparsely-populated area near the Iranian and Pakistani borders where foreign or government troops have little presence.

Like much of the south of the country, it has become a stronghold for Taliban fighters who were driven out of Kabul by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in 2001 but are making a comeback in the south and east.

A Taliban-led insurgency against Afghanistan’s U.S.-backed government has grown in recent years, and the militants have occasionally carried out their form of justice, including public executions, in towns and villages under their control.

Taliban spokesmen were not immediately available for comment.

Reporting by Sharafuddin Sharafyar in Herat and Sayed Salahuddin in Kabul; writing by Peter Graff

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