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Taliban enforcers still exercise brutal control over Nuristan population

Kabul , Wed, 02 May 2012 ANI

Kabul, May 2 (ANI): Religious squads in parts of remote north-east Afghanistan still exercise strict control over the population, even though the Taliban regulations were abandoned in Kabul in 2001.

Villagers in the more remote parts of Afghanistan's mountainous north-east region adjusted to living alongside insurgents over a period of time.

But Taliban enforcers threatened people by reportedly entering their mosques two months ago to check that beard and trouser lengths met standards of religious propriety, and to hunt for government employees.

According to Michael Semple, a Harvard University fellow, who is an expert on the Taliban, even by the standards of hardline Taliban, these uniformed squads are oppressive and ruthlessly regulate the population's behavior in Nuristan.

The refugees claimed that Taliban enforcers spoke in accents from outside the area, and if anyone who questioned them, they face the risk of a dangerous assault.

"The uniformed group, when they stop people, they don't say much. If you try to make a longer conversation, they will give you a beating that will nearly kill you. We call them the 'vice and virtue police'," said Hussain Ali, 30, a lawyer.

The Taliban has confirmed the setting up of a "morality police" squad in Nuristan, but denied that it was uniformed or violent.

"We formed a unit, but they don't have a uniform, and they treat the people with respect. It's just to reform the character of the people, because our [Taliban shadow] governor was receiving a lot of complaints from the elders," The Guradian quoted Zabihullah Mujaheed, a Taliban spokesman, as saying. (ANI)

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