A woman was beaten to death by a mob before her body was set on fire and dumped in a muddy river in the heart of Afghanistan’s capital.
Shocking video has emerged of crowds of men repeatedly stamping on the 27-year-old, named only as Farkhunda, near the Shah-e Doh Shamshira shrine and mosque in the heart of Kabul.
At one point, one of the attackers can be seen striking the woman with a piece of wood while another was filmed hurling a brick at her as she lay on the ground.
Some of the men stamped on the victim’s limp body while others could be seen punching and kicking her.
Reports have emerged that her body was then taken to the Kabul river and burned. The mob carried out the lynching after she was accused of setting fire to pages of the Koran.
But her devastated parents have told Kabul police that their daughter had suffered with mental illness for many years and that she had not meant to burn Islam’s holy book
The police did not comment immediately on any circumstances that might have led to the attack.
Officers had to move in to disperse angry crowds of ‘thousands of people’ in the area as the incident unfolded.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Interior confirmed four suspects had been arrested in connection with the attack on his official Twitter account.
Disturbing footage of the attack was posted on social media websites and shows other men filming with their mobile phones while it is taking place.
The BBC reports one eyewitness to the lynching as saying: ‘I heard noise, I went and people said that a woman is burning Koran. When I went closer I saw angry people shouting they want to kill the woman.
‘They beat her to death and then threw her on the river side and burned her. Firefighters later came and put out the fire and took the body.’
The head of Kabul’s criminal police General Farid Afzali told AFP: ‘A woman burned a copy of the Koran in the Shahi Doshamshira neighbourhood.’
The woman’s body was then thrown into the Kabul River, Afzali added.
Reports have emerged that police had been trying to disperse the angry crowd of ‘thousands of people’ who had gathered in the densely populated neighbourhood.
Interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi also confirmed the incident, saying a probe into the ‘very unfortunate’ event was underway.
While Afghanistan is struggling to emerge from the suppression of women under Taliban rule that began in the 1990s, such public attacks, especially in the capital, remain ununsual.
Women’s rights have made gains since the 2001 ousting of the militants, who follow a hardline interpretation of Islamic law, but observers worry that progress is at risk as widespread violence against women persists and women remain under-represented in politics and public life.
A 2013 U.N. report noted that most violence against women goes underreported, particularly in rural areas.
Local television news channel 1TV posted what appeared to be footage of the aftermath of the killing on its website and said the mob attacked the woman because she had burned pages from a Koran.
The family of the victim met the Kabul police’s criminal investigation team, a security official said.
Human rights groups have raised concerns whether enough was done to stop the mob.
‘I would certainly hope the government would be trying to arrest and prosecute everyone who was involved and doing an internal investigation into whether the police response was appropriate,’ said Heather Barr, a senior researcher for women’s rights in Asia for Human Rights Watch.
Horrific moment mob beats Afghan woman to death before burning her body and dumping it in a river because she set fire to a Koran
- Dozens of men lynch woman after she was accused of burning the Koran
- Shocking video has emerged of mob punching, kicking and stoning victim
- Attack happened near Shah-e Doh Shamshira mosque in the heart of Kabul
- Footage shows men striking 27-year-old with pieces of wood and bricks
- Her parents insist she had suffered from mental illness for past 16 years
- Kabul officials say four have been arrested in connection with the attack
- WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT