HERAT -- Afghan are pouring ridicule and scorn on the Taliban for executing four donkeys for allegedly helping pro-government forces in Ghor.
A woman and her three children were leading the donkeys loaded with food to Mong village in Charsadda District of Ghor Province Monday (February 3) when they encountered the Taliban en route, according to Abdulhai Khatibi, a spokesperson for the Ghor governor.
"The Taliban shot these donkeys as they thought they were transporting food for the public uprising forces," he said. "But the reality is that a woman had picked up some food from her father's house and wanted to carry it home on these donkeys."
The woman has no ties to the government and was just transporting the goods she needed, he said.
"The Taliban took the woman and her three children captive and transferred them to an unknown location after they killed the donkeys," Khatibi said.
The Taliban admitted to killing the donkeys in Ghor Province.
The militant group often refers to individuals helping the Afghan government as infidels as a means to justify their violent reprisals.
The incident occurred when members of the public uprising forces transporting materials on donkeys were ambushed by the Taliban, Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid told the BBC Tuesday (February 4).
Khatibi dismissed the Taliban's version of the story as spurious, saying the food and donkeys belonged to civilians.
A 'ridiculous' and 'inhumane' act
Afghans have condemned the Taliban's ambush of the woman and her donkeys, calling it "brutal" and "ridiculous".
The Taliban continue to display their cruelty and inhumanity daily, an example of which is the killing of harmless donkeys, said Muhammad Naser Faqiri, a resident of Herat Province.
"The Taliban have no mercy for humans or animals," he said. "Although the killing of donkeys by the Taliban looks ridiculous and laughable, it is a brutal and inhumane act. Donkeys are harmless animals that humans use for transporting goods."
The Taliban have always committed terrible crimes in the province and are hated by the public, said Abdul Saboor Naseri, a resident of Firoz Koh, Ghor Province.
"Previously, I compared the Taliban with donkeys, but I now realise that comparing these militants to donkeys is an insult to donkeys," he said.
The Taliban try to spread fear with such brutal acts so that they can force civilians to accept their demands, he said.
"The Taliban didn't have mercy even on innocent animals," Naseri said. "It doesn't matter for the Taliban whether their target is a human or an animal. They attack everyone to achieve their evil goals."
"I doubt the Taliban are human beings," said Fahim Akbari, a resident of Herat city. "They do things that wild animals won't do. I was shocked when I heard that the Taliban killed animals in Ghor Province."
"The donkeys carrying the loads were not guilty of anything, and they can't speak," he said. "The Taliban don't have the right to attack these poor animals. We condemn this act of the Taliban, and it needs to be recorded as a crime."
Taliban: a taint on Islam
The Taliban are a cursed group, and their acts have no relation with Islam, said Sayed Muhammad Sherzadi, a religious scholar in Herat city.
"The criminal Taliban make Afghan families grieve every day as they kill innocent civilians," he said. "As God has cursed this group in this world, may He impose severe punishment on these cruel people [in the hereafter]."
"May God curse all those who support and instruct the Taliban," he said. "The Taliban's supporters share the group's crimes, and they are [equally] involved in the daily killing of innocent human beings."
"The Taliban have tainted the religion of Islam and Muslims in the entire world," Sherzadi said, adding that Muslims are ashamed of such cruel persons.
"The Taliban abuse the religion of God and the Koran to achieve their goals," he said.
The Taliban have a brutal track record of violence against civilians in Ghor Province. Last year, at least 78 civilians were killed -- including 10 women and 10 children -- and 72 injured by the militants.
The Taliban lack the ability to confront security forces, so they resort to killing civilians, Ghor Governor Ghulam Naser Khaze said last November.
Last October, the Taliban also shot and killed two of their own members in Charsadda District after accusing them of aiding the government.