Taliban militants flog two men and a teenage boy in a video that has emerged from Pakistan's tribal belt along the Afghan border, showing the hold of insurgents in at least one area there despite army offensives and intensified U.S. missile strikes in the region.
The video was shot on a mobile phone on Feb. 3 and passed to a local journalist who occasionally provides video to Associated Press Television News. The man who provided the clip said it was taken in the Mamozai area of the Orakzai tribal region, though there was no way of verifying that because travel there is dangerous for outsiders. The tribal elder requested anonymity out of fear for his life.
The Taliban are known to beat people in areas they control if they are suspected of criminal acts, spying or violating the militants' ultra-strict interpretation of Islamic law. People accused of serious crimes are often reportedly killed.
Using a piece of rope or leather, a militant repeatedly strikes a man who wears trousers but no shirt, and who looks to be covered in dirt or soot. The man at times has to be restrained. He falls to the ground repeatedly, but is hauled back up during the beating.
The tribal elder who provided the footage said the man was being punished for allegedly "working against the Taliban" by speaking out against the militants. The second victim appears to be a teenage boy, who the tribal elder said was being blamed for not growing a beard. The third victim was said to be punished for not praying.
A crowd of men and boys watched the beatings, mostly in silence.
'Old man with the white beard'
As the audience rise to leave, a man announces that an "old man with the white beard" is to be detained for five days and "if he improves" during his detention the militants would take another look at his case. His crime was not announced.
The tribal elder identified the militant doing the beating as Mullah Toofan, believed to be a local Taliban commander.
The Pakistani army has carried out occasional air raids in Orakzai over the last few months, but it has not been the target of a major ground offensive like one under way in South Waziristan tribal region.
The government has little or no presence in Pakistan's tribal belt. Before the Taliban rose to prominence in the region over the past decade, tribal elders dispensed justice.