The Taliban freed the merchant and his son and killed the kidnappers. The bodies of the kidnappers were then hanged in four different locations of Herat city on Saturday, the journalist and one other source said.
The Deputy Governor of Herat, Shir Ahmed Ummar Muhajir, also told a local journalist: “Four people were killed and one armed member of the Islamic Emirate was wounded in a clash in the 14th district of Herat.”
Video and images from Herat show one man hanged from a crane in a central square. A witness told CNN a crowd gathered to view the body.
A student and activist in the city told CNN the men “were shot during the operation and then were hanged for people to take a lesson.”
There has been no comment from the Taliban.
Earlier this month the bodies of four alleged kidnappers were dumped in a central square in Mazar-i-Sharif. They were reported to have been killed in a shoot-out with the Taliban after abducting several children.
The events follow recent reports of harsh crackdowns by the Taliban across Afghanistan that have come since they seized power of the nation in August.
Meanwhile, the Taliban have also recently denied claims that Afghan girls and women will be banned from secondary education — but the militant group have not yet said when they will be allowed to return to school, despite calling on boys to resume education.