The Afghan Taliban extremist group executed a lecturer and a student in the eastern Nangarhar province but the motive for the killings is still unclear. Their bodies were recovered by local Afghan authorities on Sunday, 31 December, days after they were kidnapped by Taliban militants.

Both the victims were part of the Jalalabad Agriculture Institute in the province, which is seeing a sharp rise in Taliban's armed insurgency. The provincial government said the duo appear to have been executed on Friday, 29 December, two days after they went missing.

A government statement did not mention how they were executed or the circumstances surrounding the killings. The Taliban have not yet commented on the murders.

Taliban militants frequently abduct and execute civilians in the area accusing them of engaging in activities in support of the government and security forces.

Though Nangarhar is considered a relatively calmer province, rise of extremism and a volatile security situation in the region are a major cause of concern for Afghan government forces.

In another development, at least 18 people are thought to have been killed in a suicide bombing during a funeral ceremony on Sunday, 31 December, in the same province. Mourners gathered in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar, to pay final tributes to a former district governor when the blast occurred.

No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing as yet but Taliban militants have denied involvement in the explosion. Condemnations have been pouring in since the attack.

Afghan Taliban in Nangarhar
Afghan National Army (ANA) personnel prepare for an operation against insurgents in Khogyani district of Nangarhar province Reuters