US and Afghan officials are responding with outrage after video surfaced of Taliban fighters executing a woman accused of adultery.
The video, reportedly shot on a mobile phone in a village less than an hour's drive from Kabul, the country's capital, raises serious questions about the current state of the US mission in Afghanistan, and the ability of the Taliban to dictate the law so close to the country's capital.
The video begins with a militant invoking words in Arabic. In the background, a young woman covered in a burqah from head to toe can be seen squatting on a patch of mud.
She does not say a word.
As the camera pans around, a hundred or so militants can be seen. Many of them are armed, some smiling, as what appears to be a Taliban judge reads out the verdict.
"Allah warns us not to get close to adultery because it's the wrong way" one man is heard saying on the tape.
"It's the command of Allah that she be executed," another says.
An automatic rifle is then handed to one of the militants. He approaches the woman and fires nine shots, each one of them from close range, as the crowd erupts in a series of cheers. Many of them chant "God is great" and "Long live the Mujahideen" as the woman topples over.
She does not move.
The US State Department quickly condemned the execution.
"This cold-blooded murder, carried out in front of a crowd and recorded on video, is an unambiguous reminder to the Afghan people and the international community of the brutality of the Taliban" the US Embassy in Kabul said in a statement.
In statement issued by his press office, he refered to the militants in the video as "cowards, adding that "such crimes are unforgivable both in Islam and under our country's laws."
Afghan officials believe the woman was targeted because two Taliban commanders had a dispute over here, according to the local governor, Abdul Basir Salangi. Both were apparently caught in some sort of inappropriate relationship with her, and to save their face, they accused her of adultery. They then set up a militant court where they tried, convicted, and executed her within an hour.
The grisly episode is reminiscent of the days when the Taliban ruled the country and public executions, particularly for so-called "moral crimes" like adultery were commonplace.