Kabul, Mar 20: Afghan police arrested seven suspects after a Kabul mob beat a woman to death, then set her body on fire and threw it into the Kabul River, a police chief said today.
The city's head of criminal investigation, Mohammad Farid Afzali, said the motive for the brutal attack, which happened the previous night, was unknown. Police had tried to disperse the crowd by shooting in the air, Afzali said, but had "reacted too late."
He identified the woman as 27-year-old Farkhanda, and said she had been receiving psychiatric treatment for an unspecific condition for at least four years. The incident took place outside Kabul's famous yellow mosque, the Shah-Do Shamshira.
Later, cell phone footage surfaced in the Afghan capital of the horrific beating. Violence against women is endemic in Afghanistan but mob assaults on women in Kabul are extremely rare.
President Ashraf Ghani has ordered the Interior Ministry and the Ulama Council, which oversees religious issues, as well as the leadership of the mosque to investigate the attack.
"No one has the right to take it upon themselves to act as judge and court, nor to commit violence against anyone for any reason," Ghani said in a statement. Ulama Council member Ahmad Ali Jebreili also condemned the attack, saying it was against Islamic law.
Ghani put women's rights and equality at the heart of his presidential campaign last year and has unprecedentedly elevated his wife, Rula, to First Lady status.
A Christian of Lebanese descent, she has been outspoken about women's rights in Afghanistan, which is routinely named by international organizations as one of the worst places in the world to be a woman.