KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- A series of gruesome killings in Afghanistan cast doubt about whether the Taliban really are less violent as their leadership maintains, observers said.
The deaths also raise questions about the Taliban's sincerity in peace negotiations that could lead to a power-sharing governance arrangement
Officials said five deaths -- four by beheading and one by stabbing -- indicate the Taliban could be operating with greater boldness in some regions of Afghanistan, The New York Times reported. In the beheadings, the Taliban accused the victims of being government spies because they were using satellite phones.
Two local officials said none of the men beheaded had ties to the government and likely were using the phones in town because service was poor where they lived.
Local residents interviewed by provincial officials said the Taliban told them to gather in a bazaar to witness the beheadings, Ahmadi told the Times.
Sadeem Khan Bahader Zoi, director of a radio station in eastern Afghanistan, was found stabbed to death in his car Wednesday. Zoi's brother said the victim's back, stomach and chest were slashed, and his throat was slit.
"We still don't know the cause [of Zoi's killing]," local police chief Daulat Khan Zadran said. He said the man was killed in a manner consistent with Taliban methods.