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Afghanistan Shocked By Brutal Teen Murder


A protest in the Afghan city of Jalalabad demanded justice for Abaseen Zazai

The brutal murder of a kidnapped teenager has apparently united Afghans in condemning the shocking crime and demanding the perpetrators meet justice.

Abdul Ghaffar Masoom says his only son, Abaseen Zazai, 14, was kidnapped three months ago while returning from a private lesson near his house in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

“They began asking me for $100,000 in ransom money and soon sent me his chopped fingers to pressure me,” Masoom said. “I collected $90,000 from relatives and my tribe but they had murdered Abaseen before we could agree on how to deliver the money to them.”

Masoom’s plea for justice has been heard at the highest level in the Afghan government. President Ashraf Ghani called Masoom last week soon after Zazai’s mutilated corpse was found in a rural district close to Kabul.

“The president told me, ‘I am your advocate, and I will not sit idle until I bring the perpetrators to justice,’ ” Masoom said.

Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi, speaker of the lower house of Afghan Parliament, was unusually vocal.

“The government should arrest the perpetrators of this crime and punish them according to the law so such crimes are not repeated in the future,” he told lawmakers.

Nazar Muhammad Mutmaeen, a Kabul-based former Taliban official who often attempts to explain insurgent positions, called on both the government and the rebels to help Zazai’s family in getting justice.

“If he was kidnapped from a government-controlled region, the government is responsible for finding and arresting the perpetrators,” he wrote in a piece published by the pro-Taliban Asia Today website. “And if he was kidnapped and killed in the regions controlled by the Taliban then they are responsible for finding the murderers and should hand them over to the victim’s family for public execution.”

As the news of Zazai’s murder spread last week, it prompted protests in Kabul and other cities across the country.

On April 29, Afghanistan’s main intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, claimed it arrested a group of kidnappers connected to the murder. Officials now say they are investigating close to a dozen suspects.

Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah also promised justice while chairing the weekly meeting of the country’s Council of Ministers on May 2.

“We have arrested the culprits, and they are being dealt with according to the law. God willing, justice will be served,” he said.

Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent Ajmal Aand also contributed reporting.

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