The Taliban has stoned to the death a couple in northern Afghanistan over charges of adultery, according to a provincial Afghan official.

The Governor of the Kunduz province said on Monday a man and woman were publicly killed over an alleged love affair. "The two were stoned to death in a bazaar of Dasht-e Archi district on the accusation of committing the act of adultery," said Mohammad Omar.

Last week, Islamist militants publicly flogged and killed a woman, accused of adultery, in the Badhgis province in northwestern Afghanistan, said officials.

These killings in Kunduz, if confirmed, would be the first of their kind by the Taliban in northern Afghanistan, where the militant group has comparatively lower influence than in the south. The stoning follows last week's call by a section of clerics for the imposition of a strict code of Islamic law that has frequently awarded capital punishment.

Afghan authorities say the Taliban had arrested the couple following complaints by their parents, as the two were to be married to separate individuals. The Taliban, during their rule of Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, is known to have imposed draconian punishments on people who did not subscribe to its strict code of social behaviour.

A recent study by the United Nations has held the Taliban responsible for 76 per cent of Afghan civilian deaths, estimated at 1271, which have surged in the first half of 2010.

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