The Japan Times, June 21, 1998

Taliban amputates thief's hand and foot

KABUL (AP) Four Afghan doctors, their faces hidden behind surgical masks, amputated the right hand and left foot of a convicted thief Friday before a crowd of about 2,000 people.
The thief, Bashir Ahmed, was a soldier in the Taliban religious army when he robbed three people of $500 near the front line in northeastern Afghanistan, said an unidentified religious scholar who oversaw the amputation.
The Taliban religious army, which rules 85 percent of Afghanistan, including the capital of Kabul, has imposed a strict brand of Islamic justice in its territory.
It calls for the amputation of limbs of convicted thieves, execution of murderers and the public beating of criminals convicted of lesser crimes, including women who do not wear the required covering from head to toe.
Outside the sports stadium where the amputation took place, dozens of boys played soccer.
Asked why he wasn't watching the amputation, Abdul Jamil said, "Everyone is tired of these things."
Jamil said he preferred to play soccer, having heard on the radio about the World Cup championship being played in France.
"We heard a lot about the World Cup.... I think it is very exciting," he said.
The Taliban army almost weekly holds public punishments in its sports stadium.
The Taliban is fighting an opposition alliance, made up mostly of the country's minorities, on three battlefields north of the beleaguered capital.
The alliance accuses the Taliban of following strict tribal tradition rather than the Muslim holy book, the Koran.
The Taliban also has made it a crime for women to work, girls to go to school, men to shave their beards and to walk in public without a head covering. Music has been banned, as have most forms of light entertainment.