Police official fired amid outcry over lynching of woman in Kabul

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 24, 2015 8:22 AM

By Mirwais Harooni

KABUL (Reuters) - A prominent Afghan police official was sacked on Tuesday as hundreds of men and women marched in the capital to protest the lynching of a 27-year-old woman in central Kabul last week.

The official, a spokesman for Kabul's police chief, justified the killing on his Facebook page after she had been falsely accused of burning a copy of the Koran.

The woman, named Farkhunda, was beaten to death with planks of wood and set on fire by a crowd in front of police officers close to the presidential palace, ministries and foreign embassies.

Her death has triggered a public outcry in a country where mass demonstrations of support for women's rights are rare.

Protesters in Kabul painted their faces red on Tuesday to represent Farkhunda's bloodied face as filmed by mobile phones as she was beaten to death.

"We have come here to tell the government of Afghanistan that we will no longer be satisfied with superficial narratives," said Afghanistan's former spy chief, Amrullah Saleh, who was at the protest.

"We have come here to register a very deep sense of anger and frustration with the process of reform."

Foreign aid donors have spent billions of dollars on Afghanistan's police force and the rule of law and many are frustrated at an ongoing culture of impunity and abuse by the country's security forces.

The country's top investigator has said there is no evidence Farkhunda burned the Koran.

Her brother says a cleric made the accusation at his mosque after Farkhunda told a woman not to pay for good-luck amulets because they were un-Islamic.

The president has ordered an inquiry into her killing and dozens of people have been arrested, including more than 20 police officers.

Kabul's police chief confirmed his spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai had been sacked on Tuesday, but denied it was in connection to the comment made on Facebook.

"Recently the interior ministry decided that only the police chief has the authority to speak on behalf of Kabul's police force," police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi told Reuters.

(Writing by Jessica Donati; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)