The Taliban on Thursday said they had killed an Afghan police officer, better known for posting humorous videos online, after clips emerged on social media showing him being beaten and displaying his dead body.
Fazal Mohammad, popularly referred to as “Khasha Zwan,” was stationed in southern Kandahar province. He was taken away by the Taliban after returning home about two weeks ago, according to an officer serving with him.
Last week, viral videos emerged showing Mohammad, his hands tied behind his back and sitting between two men in a car, being slapped repeatedly. Another clip purported to show his dead body.
“He was not a comedian, he fought against us in several battles. He had tried to flee when we detained him, prompting our gunmen to kill him,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Thursday.
“He was an active policeman and responsible for deaths of many people,” he told AFP.
[Al Jazeera, quoting Mujahid, also reported that he said the men have been arrested and will be tried. “Mujahid said the Taliban should have arrested the comic and brought him before a Taliban court, instead of killing him,” that news agency reported.]
Police commander Sailab, who has one name like many Afghans and who worked with Mohammad, said the comic was never deployed in combat and was more of an entertainer for the checkpoint’s officers.
The militants initially denied they had anything to do with his murder until the videos went viral.
The killing comes as the Taliban – who strictly forbade any form of entertainment when they controlled Afghanistan earlier – are making sweeping territorial gains across the country.
Second vice president Sarwar Danesh said in a Facebook post it “displayed the nature of the enemies of this land and their hostility to culture, art and freedom”.
Mohammad’s murder also triggered outrage on social media.
“The innocent face of Khasha hurts the heart of every human. They have shot him dead, they are the cruelest people in the world,” a post on Facebook said.
The Taliban have been accused of targeted killings – including journalists, judges and activists – since signing a landmark deal with Washington last year that paved the way for the withdrawal of foreign troops.
Violence has further surged since early May when the insurgents launched a campaign across the countryside after foreign forces began their final pullout.