The Taliban have destroyed the statue of a Shiite militia leader who had fought against them during Afghanistan's civil war in the 1990s, according to photos circulating on social media Wednesday.
The statue depicted Abdul Ali Mazari, a militia leader killed by the Taliban in 1996, when the Islamic militants captured power from rival warlords. Mazari was a champion of Afghanistan's ethnic Hazara minority, Shiites who were persecuted under the Sunni Taliban's earlier rule.
The statue stood in the central Bamyan province, where the Taliban disreputably blew up two massive 1,500-year-old statues of Buddha carved into a mountain in 2001, shortly before the U.S.-led invasion that drove them from power. The Taliban claimed the Buddhas violated Islam's prohibition on idolatry. The Taliban returned to power last weekend after capturing much of the country in a matter of days, less than three weeks before the U.S. plans to complete its troop withdrawal.
The Taliban have pledged a new era of peace and security, mentioning they will forgive those who fought against them and grant women full rights under Islamic law, without elaborating. But many Afghans are deeply cynical of the group, especially those who remember its previous rule, when it imposed a harsh interpretation of Islamic law.