Afghanistan executes five members of criminal gang

KABUL – Afghanistan on Wednesday executed five members of a gang involved in kidnapping and murder, as the government of the war-torn nation struggles to curb criminals who target foreigners and wealthy locals.

The hangings were carried out at Kabul’s Pul-e-Charkhi prison after the convicts lost three appeals and President Ashraf Ghani confirmed the sentences, the interior ministry said in a statement.

It said the group was involved in the kidnapping and murder of the deputy head of a construction company, and was also involving in counterfeiting and carrying illegal weapons.

With the fledgling and under-resourced police force fully occupied in fighting the Taliban, Islamic State jihadists and other insurgents, kidnapping and extortion has become a cottage industry. The criminal gangs often sell abductees, especially foreigners, to insurgent groups for a higher price. The victims are then transferred to lawless areas across the border in Pakistan, according to officials.

In May 2016 Ghani approved the execution of six Taliban-linked inmates – the first hangings carried out as part of a new hardline policy against insurgents and criminals.

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