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Afghan protests challenging Taliban rule spread

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“Our flag, our identity,” a crowd of men and women waving black, red and green national flags shouted in the capital Kabul, a video clip posted on social media showed, on the day Afghanistan celebrates independence from British control in 1919.

A witness reported gunshots fired near the rally, but they appeared to be armed Taliban shooting in the air.

One woman walked wearing an Afghan flag around her shoulders, and those marching chanted “God is greatest”. At some protests elsewhere, media have reported people tearing down the white flag of the Taliban.

A Taliban spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Some of the demonstrations are small, but combined with the ongoing scramble by thousands of people to get to Kabul airport and flee the country, they underline the challenge the Taliban face to govern the country.

The Islamist militant movement conquered Afghanistan at lightning speed as foreign troops withdrew, surprising even its leaders and leaving them to fill a power vacuum in many places.

Since seizing Kabul on Sunday, the Taliban have presented a more moderate face to the world, saying they want peace, will not take revenge against old enemies and will respect the rights of women within the framework of Islamic law.

During their previous rule from 1996-2001, they severely restricted women’s rights, staged public executions and blew up ancient Buddhist statues.

In Asadabad, capital of the eastern Province of Kunar, several people were killed during a rally, but it was not clear if the casualties resulted from Taliban firing or from a stampede that it triggered, witness Mohammed Salim said.

Protests also flared up in the city of Jalalabad and a district of Paktia Province, both also in the east.

On August 18, Taliban fighters fired at protesters waving flags in Jalalabad, killing three, witnesses and media reported. Media reported similar scenes in Asadabad and another eastern city, Khost, on Wednesday.

US President Joe Biden said the Taliban must decide if it wanted international recognition.

“I think they’re going through a sort of existential crisis about: Do they want to be recognised by the international community as being a legitimate government? I’m not sure they do,” Biden said in a TV interview aired on Thursday.

Kabul has been generally calm since Taliban forces entered on August 15, but the airport has been in chaos as people try to leave the country.

Twelve people have been killed in and around the airport, a NATO and a Taliban official said. The deaths were caused either by gun shots or by stampedes, according to the Taliban official.He urged people who do not have the legal right to travel to go home. “We don’t want to hurt anyone at the airport,” said the Taliban official, who declined to be identified. – THE HINDU

Source DailyNews
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