The Taliban killed 12 people at the stadium in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD — The Taliban flogged three women and nine men in front of hundreds of spectators at a provincial sports stadium on Wednesday, signaling that the religious extremist group has resumed the brutal form of punishment that was a hallmark of their rule in the 1990s.

The office of the governor of Logar province, south of the capital Kabul, invited “respectable scholars, mujahideen, elders, tribal leaders and local people” to the stadium in the town of Pul Alam in Logar. Invitations to the 9 a.m. event were sent out via social media.

Those punished were each given 21 to 39 lashes after being convicted by a local court of theft and adultery, said an official in the governor’s office, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he could not share details with the media.

The official said hundreds of people attended the strikes and photography and videography were banned.

Such public floggings, as well as public executions and stonings for alleged crimes, were common during the first period of Taliban rule, from 1996 to 2001, when the militants were ousted during the US-led invasion.

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After a 20-year insurgency, the Taliban returned to power in August 2021, coinciding with the withdrawal of American and other foreign troops from the country.

Immediately after taking power for the second time in the country, the Taliban promised to become more moderate and allow the rights of women and minorities. Instead, their rights and freedoms are curtailed, including a ban on girls being educated beyond the sixth grade.

The first confirmed public flogging since the Taliban took power last year took place on November 11, when 19 men and women received 39 lashes for alleged theft, adultery and running away from home.

The resumption of the practice reinforced the Taliban’s determination to adhere to a strict interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia.

The former insurgents have struggled to transition from warfare to governance amid economic decline and the international community’s denial of official recognition.