The NATO-led ISAF and the United States condemn the execution
The provincial governor says Taliban officials faked a charge of adultery as an excuse
Afghan lawmaker Fawzia Koofi weeps as she sees the video
The execution is the latest in a long line of violence against women in Afghanistan
A shot rings out, but the burqa-clad woman sitting on the rocky ground does not respond.
The man pointing a rifle at her from a few feet away lets loose another round, but still there is no reaction.
He fires a third shot, and finally the woman slumps backwards.
But the man fires another shot.
And another. And another.
Nine shots in all.
Around him, dozens of men on a hillside cheer: “God is great!”
Officials in Afghanistan, where the amateur video was filmed, believe the woman was executed because two Taliban commanders had a dispute over her, according to the governor of the province where the killing took place.
Both apparently had some kind of relationship with the woman, said Parwan province governor Abdul Basir Salangi.
“In order to save face,” they accused her of adultery, Salangi said.
Then they “faked a court to decide about the fate of this woman and in one hour, they executed the woman,” he added.
Both Taliban commanders were subsequently killed by a third Taliban commander, Salangi said.
“We went there to investigate and we are still looking for people who were involved in this brutal act,” he said.
It is not clear from the video when it was filmed.
The killing took place in the village of Qimchok, not far north of the capital Kabul.
Lawmaker Fawzia Koofi called it a huge backward step for women’s issues in Afghanistan.
“I think we will have to do something serious about this, we will have to do something as women, but also as human beings,” she said. “She didn’t even say one word to defend herself.”
Koofi wept on Saturday as she watched the video of the execution.
The United States condemned the killing “in the strongest possible terms,” calling it a “cold-blooded murder.”
“The protection of women’s rights is critical around the world, but especially in Afghanistan, where such rights were ignored, attacked and eroded under Taliban rule,” the American embassy said in a statement on Sunday.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan also condemned the execution.
“Let’s be clear, this wasn’t justice, this was murder, and an atrocity of unspeakable cruelty,” ISAF commander Gen. John Allen said in a statement Sunday. “The Taliban’s continued brutality toward innocent civilians, particularly women, must be condemned in the strongest terms. There has been too much progress made by too many brave Afghans, especially on the part of women, for this kind of criminal behavior to be tolerated.”
The public execution is the latest and among the most shocking examples of violence against women in Afghanistan, but it is far from an isolated case.
The Taliban also does not have a monopoly on the violence, cautioned Christine Fair, with the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University.
“It’s really important to not see this exclusively in terms of the Taliban, but this is a set of practices that actually have existed and continue to exist throughout Afghanistan,” she said.
Nearly nine out of 10 women suffer physical, sexual, or psychological violence or forced marriage at least once in their lifetimes, Human Rights Watch said in its 2012 annual report.
The country has 14 shelters for abused women, a number which the campaign group says “does not meet even a small fraction of the need.”
Hundreds of students and teachers at girls’ schools in the country have been hospitalized with suspected poisoning this year alone. Girls were forbidden to go to school when the Taliban ruled the country from 1996 to 2001.
Salangi, the provincial governor, spoke to CNN about the killing on Sunday, the same day that representatives of more than 80 nations and organizations met to consider pouring billions more aid dollars into the country.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged delegates including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton not to demand complex reforms in exchange for the money.
“Afghan institutions are still in their nascent stages,” he said. “The very programs which offer the best hope of sustainability of Afghan institutions should not be held hostage to complex preconditions.”
Clinton said donors at the conference pledged about $16 billion for Afghanistan over four years. That amount did not include money from the United States because any foreign aid must be approved by Congress.
Under a security pact with Afghanistan, nearly all U.S.-led NATO troops will withdraw from the country by the end of 2014.
“We can ask the question what will happen when we leave, but let’s remember that this is actually happening while we’re still there,” said Fair, with Georgetown.
CNN’s Richard Allen Greene, Chelsea J. Carter and Sara Sidner, and journalist Ruhullah Khapalwak contributed to this story.