Afghanistan executed eight prisoners on death row Tuesday with more executions expected soon, officials said, marking a rare use of the death penalty in the war-wracked country.
The eight had been convicted of crimes including murder, kidnapping and rape, deputy attorney general Rahmatullah Nazari told AFP. They were hanged in Kabul's main Pul-e-Charkhi prison, he said.
President Hamid Karzai has approved the execution of a total of 16 people after their death sentences were confirmed by three courts, presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi said.
"They were involved in rape of women and children before killing them, murder and also attacking and killing our security officers," he said, without elaborating.
Executions have been infrequent since the fall of the Taliban Islamist regime in 2001, which put people to death for adultery and other infringements of Islamic law.
Karzai, who has the final say over whether executions ordered by Afghan courts will be carried out, is on record as saying he is reluctant to sign death warrants.
Afghanistan's justice system remains weak and compromised, and relies heavily on confessions, including some obtained through torture, rights groups have said.
The executions came just days after a military court rejected an appeal by an Afghan soldier sentenced to death for killing five French troops in an insider attack in January, but it is not known whether he will be in the next group to be hanged.
So-called green-on-blue attacks have spiralled this year, with a total of 61 NATO troops killed by members of the Afghan security forces, fuelling distrust between the allies in the war against Taliban Islamist insurgents.
The French casualties prompted France to withdraw combat forces from Afghanistan earlier than planned.