The Taliban hung several dead bodies from cranes in Herat city in western Afghanistan, local media and witnesses reported, in a gruesome display that signaled a return to some of the militant group's methods of the past.
The BBC quoted two local reporters as saying the bodies of four people accused of kidnapping had been hung in several parts of Herat.
The Afghan Hasht-e Sobh daily reported that the bodies of several men accused of kidnapping had been displayed in several parts of the city. The report said the alleged kidnappers were killed in an exchange of gunfire with the Taliban.
Wazir Ahmad Seddiqi, who runs a pharmacy on the side of the main square in Herat, told the Associated Press that four bodies were brought to the square and three bodies were moved to other squares in the city to be displayed.
Seddiqi said the Taliban announced in the square that the four were caught taking part in a kidnapping and were killed by police.
Taliban provincial Deputy Governor Mawlawi Shir Ahmad Amar said that the men had been killed in direct clashes with Taliban fighters after kidnapping a trader and his son who were later rescued.
"Their bodies were hanged in the town squares as an example to other kidnappers," he told the dpa news agency. "They were hanged so that no one should dare to commit such a crime."
In a video shared on social media, a man's blood-soaked body can be seen wrapped in chains and hanging from a crane in what appears to be the main square of Herat city.
A number of people can also be seen filming the scene on their cellphones.
Ziaulhaq Jalali, a Taliban appointed district police chief in Herat, confirmed that Taliban members rescued a father and son who had been abducted by four kidnappers after an exchange of gunfire. He said a Taliban fighter and a civilian were wounded by the kidnappers but "the four [kidnappers] were killed in crossfire."
Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, one of the founders of the Taliban and the chief enforcer of its harsh interpretation of Islamic law when they last ruled Afghanistan, told the Associated Press this week that the hard-line movement will once again carry out executions and amputations of hands under its interpretation of Islamic law -- though perhaps without as much public fanfare as in the past.
The comments were condemned by the U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price who said the punishments "would constitute clear gross abuses of human rights."
"We stand firm with the international community to hold perpetrators of these, of any such abuses, accountable," Price said on September 24.
During its brutal rule of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban was known for punishing crimes with public lashings, publicly stoning people to death and amputating people's limbs.