In a gruesome display of brutality, the Taliban have left the dead bodies of four alleged kidnappers hanging from a crane parked in the heart of the Afghan city of Herat as the insurgents reinstate their hardline rule to serve as a lesson to other offenders.

According to Herat's deputy governor Mulwi Shir Ahmad Ammar, the men had kidnapped a local trader and his son on Saturday, noting they had intended to bring them out of the city, some 500 miles west of Kabul, NBC News reported.

In a tough crackdown on crime in Afghanistan, the Taliban fighters tracked the criminals down, which resulted in an exchange of gunfire. The mayhem left a member of the group wounded and all four criminals dead.

Their corpses were then strung up "to be a life lesson for other kidnappers," Ammar added.

Taliban officials initially brought four bodies to Herat's central square before moving three corpses to other parts of the city to heinously spread more terror to the public, flagging the movement's return to some of its brutal tactics of the late 1990s, the New Zealand Herald noted.

The disturbing public stunt left a large crowd appalled as they looked up at a man's bloodied corpse in white clothes swinging on the crane in broad daylight in Mostofiat Square. Videos of the scene also immediately circulated after being shared by news agencies and online users. 

A senior Taliban commander would later justify the public execution, arguing it was "the only solution" to deal with crimes such as kidnapping and murder. 

"This action aims to alert all criminals that they are not safe," he told the press.

According to the New York Daily News, the display of terror comes two days after Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, the chief enforcer of the Taliban's harsh interpretation of Islamic law, declared the resumption of extreme punishments such as executions and amputations after the hardline group seized control of Afghanistan last month.

The move sparked international ire, particularly from the United States, which pulled out its troops from the nation in a messy exit last month. Turabi would hit back at these criticisms, contending that they will continue to follow their interpretation of Islamic law.

“No one will tell us what our laws should be. We will follow Islam and we will make our laws on the Quran,” he concluded. 

Taliban fighters Taliban officials initially brought four bodies to Herat's central square before moving three corpses to other parts of the city to heinously spread more terror to the public, flagging the movement's return to some of its brutal tactics of the late 1990s. This is a representational image. Marcus Yam/Getty Images