An Afghan volleyball player on the girls’ national team was beheaded by the Taliban — with gruesome photos of her severed head then posted on social media, according to her coach.
Mahjabin Hakimi, one of the best players in the Kabul Municipality Volleyball Club, was slaughtered in the capital city of Kabul as troops searched for female sports players, her coach told the Persian Independent.
She was killed earlier this month, but her death remained mostly hidden because her family had been threatened not to talk, claimed the coach, using a pseudonym, Suraya Afzali, over safety fears.
Images of Hakimi’s severed neck were then published on Afghan social media, according to the paper, which did not say how old she is.
Conflicting reports online suggested that happened earlier, with an apparent death certificate suggesting she was killed was Aug. 13 — the final days of the Taliban’s insurgency before seizing Kabul.
However, the Payk Investigative Journalism Center said its sources also confirmed that Hakimi “was ‘beheaded’ by the Taliban in Kabul.” The governing group has yet to comment, Payk Media said.
Afzali told the Persian Independent that she was speaking out to highlight the risk female sports players face, with only two of the women’s national volleyball team having managed to flee the country.
“All the players of the volleyball team and the rest of the women athletes are in a bad situation and in despair and fear,” she told the paper. “Everyone has been forced to flee and live in unknown places.”
One of the players who escaped, Zahra Fayazi, told the BBC last month that at least one of the players had been killed.
“We don’t want this to repeat for our other players,” she told the broadcaster from her new home in the UK
“Many of our players who are from provinces were threatened many times by their relatives who are Taliban and Taliban followers.
“The Taliban asked our players’ families to not allow their girls to do sport, otherwise they will be faced with unexpected violence,” Fayazi said.
“They even burned their sports equipment to save themselves and their families. They didn’t want them to keep anything related to sport. They are scared,” she said.
Another teammate who escaped told the BBC everyone was “shocked” when they heard that one of their team had been killed.
“I’m sure it was the Taliban,” said Sophia, a pseudonym to protect her family members still in Afghanistan. “Maybe we will lose other friends,” she said.