Kabul: A manhunt was under way on Monday for Taliban militants who publicly executed a woman accused of adultery, Afghan authorities said, as outrage mounted after a video of the killing surfaced.
President Hamid Karzai called the killing "disgusting and unforgivable" and ordered security forces to spare no efforts in arresting and punishing those responsible.
The commander of Nato's 130,000 troops in Afghanistan, General John Allen, offered to help local security forces track and capture the men involved in what he called "an atrocity of unspeakable cruelty".
The brutal shooting of the lone woman before a cheering mob of men is shown in graphic detail in a video of the event in a village in Parwan province, some 100 kilometres north of the capital Kabul.
"We have sent a police force to the area," Parwan provincial governor Basir Salangi said, adding that the government had no permanent presence in the valley."They are searching for the Taliban who are responsible but the Taliban, including the killer, have fled to the mountains."
Roshna Khalid, Salangi's spokeswoman, said the 22-year-old woman, named as Najiba, was married to a member of Taliban and was accused of adultery with a Taliban commander.
"Within one hour they decided that she was guilty and sentenced her to death. They shot her in front of villagers in her village, Qol," she said.
Public executions of alleged adulterers were common when the Taliban regime was in power from 1996 until 2001, when they were toppled by a US-led invasion for harbouring Al Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks.
The Taliban have since waged an insurgency against the western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.
Karzai said Afghanistan's suffering people were not expecting a repeat of such incidents after the fall of the Taliban regime.
"Murdering a woman who did not even have a voice for defending herself is a sign of cowardness and such a crime is unforgivable in Islam and the country's laws," he said.
The video also drew international condemnation, with British Foreign Secretary William Hague saying he was "shocked and disgusted" by the execution.
"Such deplorable actions underline the vital need for better protection of the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan," he said.