The Taliban violently broke up a protest in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday killing at least one person. The violence came just one day after the militants promised to respect women’s rights and forgive those who resisted them.
In a rare public show of opposition to the Taliban, people in the city of Jalalabad raised the national flag a day before Afghanistan's Independence Day, which honors the end of British rule in 1919. They lowered the Taliban flag — a white flag with an Islamic message — that the militants have raised in the areas they captured.
Videos show the Taliban firing into the air and attacking people with sticks to break up the crowd. A local health official said at least one person was killed and six were wounded.
Babrak Amirzada is a reporter for a local news agency. He said he and a TV cameraman from another agency were beaten by the Taliban as they tried to cover the unrest.
More videos from the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul appear to show a gathering of possible opposition leaders. The area is home to the Northern Alliance militias that allied with the U.S. against the Taliban in 2001. It is the only area that has not yet fallen to the Taliban.
Those leaders include members of the former government — Vice President Amrullah Saleh and Defense Minister Gen. Bismillah Mohammadi. The son of the late Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud was also there.
Saleh said on Twitter that he is the country's rightful president. It is not clear if they plan to oppose the Taliban, who took control over most of the country in a matter of days last week.
Talks among Afghan groups
The Taliban, meanwhile, continued their efforts to form an "inclusive, Islamic government."
Anas Haqqani, a senior leader of a powerful Taliban group, met with former President Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, a senior official in the ousted government. The U.S. called the Haqqani network a terrorist group in 2012, and its involvement in a future government could result in international sanctions.
A spokesman for Karzai said the early meetings would help to arrange negotiations with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the top Taliban political leader. Baradar returned to Kandahar, the Taliban’s birthplace on Tuesday.
Afghan security forces surrendered to the Taliban on Sunday as then-President Ashraf Ghani left Kabul. The foreign ministry of the United Arab Emirates said in a statement that Ghani and his family were in the country for “humanitarian considerations.”
Afghans looking to leave
Hundreds of people were waiting outside Kabul’s international airport early Wednesday. The Taliban demanded to see documents before permitting the rare passenger inside. U.S. officials said Tuesday that the militants had agreed to permit “safe passage” for civilians with documents looking to leave the country.
Many of the people outside did not appear to have passports, and each time the doorway opened a few centimeters, many tried to push through. The Taliban then fired warning shots to keep them out.
The Taliban had promised Tuesday that they would respect women’s rights, forgive those who resisted them and ensure a secure Afghanistan. But witnesses say groups of armed men have been going door to door asking about Afghans who worked with the Americans or the former government. It is unclear if the gunmen are Taliban or criminals acting as if they were militants.
On Wednesday, the U.S., Britain, the European Union and 18 other countries issued a joint statement saying they are “deeply worried” about the Afghan women’s “rights to education, work and freedom of movement” under the Taliban.
The statement said, “Any form of discrimination and abuse should be prevented. We in the international community stand ready to assist them with humanitarian aid and support, to ensure that their voices can be heard.”
Any future Afghan government will have to deal with the U.S. where $7 billion of Afghan assets are being held. Ajmal Ahmady is head of Afghanistan’s Central Bank. He said the country’s supply of U.S. dollars is “close to zero.” This will likely lead to a decrease in the value of the local money, the afghani, hurting the country’s poor.
The “Taliban won militarily — but now have to govern,” he wrote on Twitter. “It is not easy.”
I’m Dan Friedell.
And I’m Jill Robbins.
Ahmad Seir, Rahim Faiez, Kathy Gannon and Joseph Krauss reported on this story for the Associated Press. Jill Robbins adapted it for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.
Words in This Story
sanction – n. an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country, by not allowing economic aid for that country, etc. — usually plural
arrange – v. to organize the details of something before it happens :
birthplace – n. the place where someone was born or where something began
humanitarian – n. a person who works to make other people's lives better
asset – n. something that is owned by a person, company or the like
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