AFGHANISTAN: Taliban soldiers cradling AK-47s and M16 assault rifles mingle among families at Kabul Zoo, a novelty experience for many of the young fighters from rural Afghanistan.
As visitors set up picnic spots in the shaded grounds, enjoying ice creams and salted pomegranate seeds, heavily armed Taliban gunmen peer into the enclosures housing lions, leopards, camels, wolves, ostriches and macaques.
After years of fighting in the countryside, the capture of the capital was the first time many had entered a large city, let alone a zoo. They take selfies and pose for group photos, but the relative tranquillity is upended suddenly when one fighter grabs a deer by its antlers and his friends roar with laughter. One Taliban member, 40-year-old Abdul Qadir, who now works for the interior ministry, said he was sightseeing with a group of male friends.
“I really like the animals, especially those which can be found in our country,” he says. “I like lions very much.”
Asked about the armed presence — unheard of in other zoos around the world — he says the Taliban were in favour of barring guns from the venue so that “children or women should not feel scared”.
– INDIA TODAY