Taliban shoot at crowds of protesters in Jalalabad

Demonstrators gathered in several provincial capitals in Afghanistan on Wednesday

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Members of the Taliban opened fire on a group of protesters on Wednesday in the provinces of Khost and Nangarhar, witnesses said.

Crowds of people in the provinces attempted to hoist the Afghan flag. The Taliban have replaced the official flag of Afghanistan with the white flag of their militant group in areas they have seized.

But many Afghans on Wednesday took to the streets in protest against the Taliban’s takeover of the country.

Sher Shah, 27, a civil society activist who participated in the protest in Jalalabad said his and fellow protesters were unwilling to give up everything they had achieved in the 20 years since the Taliban was chased out. His name has been changed to protect his identity.

“We started the protest and carried the black, red and green Afghan national flag across the streets. Thousands of our people died for this flag, we can’t betray them. Giving up would be a betrayal of the values these three colours stand for.

“Giving up would be a betrayal of those little girls that go to school for a better future. It would be a betrayal to those brave soldiers who lost their lives to protect this flag,” an emotional Mr Shah said.

Mr Shah said that as they marched the streets the group swelled as about 200 people joined the protest.

“That is when the Taliban who had been watching started to fire upon us,” he said.

“A ranger (four wheel drive vehicle) came from behind and their fighters got off and first started kicking and hitting us with their AK47s. Then they started firing on us when we reached the main market,” he said.

Mr Shah said he saw at least one protester killed and two injured. No official report on the casualties has been revealed.

A similar Taliban attack on protesters was reported in Khost in the south-east of the country, where civil society members gathered and hoisted a flag in the city square.

Anti-Taliban resistance?

Reports of resistance against the Taliban are cropping up across numerous provinces.

Notably, Vice President Amrullah Saleh has declared himself the acting president, in a message broadcast on Tuesday, calling to reinstate the democratic government of the country.

Mr Saleh is mobilising an anti-Taliban alliance from the Panjshir valley, the only area in Afghanistan that has not fallen to the militant group.

Meanwhile, videos circulating on social media purport to show members of the Afghan National Security Forces who refused to give up their weapons to the Taliban.

Soldiers can be seen crying and pledging continued allegiance to the Afghan National flag.

“We don’t want the white flag. We don’t want the Islamic emirate, we want to keep the values of the republic. One person running away shouldn’t mean that 35 million people lose everything they hold dear,” he said, referring to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fleeing the country after the Taliban took Kabul.

Similar protests are expected to take place across the country on Thursday, which marks Afghanistan’s Independence Day from British colonial rule, August 19.

“By shooting at us they proved that nothing has changed about them. They want to rule Afghanistan the same way they did 25 years go, but they forget that we are not the same people of 25 years go,” Mr Shah said.

“We will fight and resist with our voice and our pens, against their AK47s and ISI agents,” he said, referring to Pakistan's intelligence agency which has been accused of supporting the Taliban.

Updated: August 19th 2021, 4:57 AM
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