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Afghan Police Make Arrests In Mob Killing Of Woman

A screen grab of a mob surrounding and attacking a woman who allegedly burned a Koran.

Afghan police have started making arrests in connection with the killing of a woman by a mob in central Kabul.

An angry group of men on March 19 killed the woman, identified by police as 27-year-old Farkhanda, and set her body on fire after she allegedly burned a copy of the Koran.

Her body was then thrown into the Kabul River.

Kabul's head of criminal investigation, Mohammad Farid Afzali, told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan on March 20 that nine people were arrested in connection with her death.

The mob killing occurred near Kabul's famous Shah-Do Shamshira shrine.

Afzali said Farkhanda's doctor told police that she "was suffering from a severe mental illness," a claim corroborated by her family.

President Ashraf Ghani has ordered the Interior Ministry and the Ulema Council, which oversees religious issues, as well as the leadership of the mosque to investigate the attack.

In a statement issued on March 20, Ghani strongly condemned the killing.

He said "whoever engages in violent acts outside law will be dealt with strongly."

Mob In Kabul Kills Woman For Allegedly Burning Koran
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In a statement, the United Nations has condemned “in the strongest terms” Farkhanda's killing and burning.

“We are particularly worried by reports that the woman had suffered from mental illness for many years,” said Elzira Sagynbaeva, the country representative for UN Women in Afghanistan.

Sagynbaeva welcomed the detentions of several suspects and called on Afghan authorities to “investigate this incident fully and bring to justice all persons who actively participated in the killing, or aided and abetted it.”

The continued increase in the number of cases of violence against women and girls in Afghanistan has become a source of major concern, she added.

Footage obtained by RFE/RL showed a large crowd comprised mainly of young men repeatedly kicking and beating the woman.

Some threw stones and buckets at her as she struggled to get off the ground.

The assault on the woman continued as she was clearly unconscious and bleeding profusely.

Some men in the crowd can be heard shouting "Allahu Akbar."

In 2012, the revelation that copies of the Koran had been burnt at the U.S.-run Bagram prison near Kabul sparked five days of violent anti-U.S. riots and attacks across the country.

Thirty people were reported killed in the violence, including four Americans.

Based on reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan