KABUL, Afghanistan – Insurgents in southern Afghanistan hanged an 8-year-old boy six days after they abducted him, the Afghan government said Sunday.

The boy’s captors had demanded that his father, a police officer, supply them with a police vehicle and he refused, said a statement from President Hamid Karzai’s office. The militants hanged the boy Friday in Helmand province’s Gereshk district.

“President Karzai both strongly condemns this act and rejects it as a brutal and cowardly crime that is not acceptable in any religion or culture,” the statement said. It referred to the killers as “terrorists,” but did not say if they belonged to the Taliban or another of the insurgent movements fighting foreign forces and their Afghan allies.

Kidnappings have become increasingly common in Afghanistan, both by criminal groups looking for ransoms and insurgents making a political statement. Most abductions are settled out of the public eye, with negotiations and cash.