Kabul: The Taliban executed a pregnant woman on charges of adultery in western Afghanistan, an official said Monday.
The 48-year-old widow was given dozens of lashes before being shot dead on Sunday in remote Qades, a district held by militants in northwestern Badghis province, said Abdul Jabar, a senior provincial officer.
"It happened before the public ... despite that no one has complained, the government will take its own measures about the incident," Jabar said by telephone from Badghis.
She was kept in prison for three days before being publicly executed, he said, adding, "She was first flogged 200 times and then was shot in her head three times."
The unidentified man who had the alleged affair with the woman had escaped, he said.
Mullah Mohammad Yousif, a Taliban commander in the district, sentenced the woman to death and then personally carried out the punishment Sunday, Saleh said.
The Taliban staged public stonings or lashings of Afghans found to have had sex outside marriage when in power from 1996 until 2001.
However, Qari Mohammad Yousuf, the main Taliban media spokesman, said the group was not behind the Qades execution.
"This is a bad work and we reject it. Whoever has done is not a member of the Taliban and he is trying to defame us," Yousuf said by phone from an undisclosed location.
Another Taliban spokesman earlier said he was not aware of the incident. The Taliban are leading a growing insurgency against the Afghan government and foreign forces.
The Taliban and the Afghan government and foreign forces are engaged in a propaganda battle to win over the hearts and minds of Afghan civilians. Each side often accuses the other of committing atrocities, which are usually denied immediately.
The Taliban recently denied responsibility after Time magazine published a disturbing cover photograph of a young Afghan woman who said her nose was cut off as punishment for fleeing abuse at her husband`s house.
If confirmed, Sunday`s execution would be the second of a woman by the Taliban since they were ousted by US-backed Afghan forces nine years ago. A woman was previously executed for alleged spying for foreign forces.
One such execution, of a woman wearing an all-encompassing burqa and shot as she knelt in the Olympic Stadium in Kabul, caused outrage when film of the incident leaked out.
The judiciary in neighbouring Iran last month suspended a sentence of death by stoning for a woman convicted of adultery after an international outcry over the case.