At least two killed by celebratory gunfire in Kabul

Sustained shooting rings out in Afghan capital as rumours swirl around fighting in Panjshir

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At least two people were killed and several were injured after celebratory gunfire erupted in Kabul on Friday night.

The shooting was motivated by rumours circulating on social media that the Taliban had captured the Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan’s last holdout against the militants.

The NGO Emergency said on Twitter its hospital in central Kabul had “admitted 3 patients, treated 7 outpatients, and received 2 people dead on arrival” after 9pm on Friday. All had bullet wounds, staff said.

A guard outside the hospital said that several of those injured had been treated there and discharged.

Sustained gunfire could be heard across Kabul for at least 30 minutes on Friday night after rumours emerged that the Taliban had captured Panjshir, a stronghold of the National Resistance Forces.

The resistance movement is led by former vice president Amrullah Saleh and Ahmad Massoud, son of the politician and military commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, who is considered a national hero by many Afghans.

Known as the Lion of Panjshir after defending the valley first against the Soviets and then the Taliban, the elder Massoud was assassinated in a suicide bombing by Al Qaeda two days before the 9/11 attacks in the US.

Resistance fighters in Panjshir rejected the rumour that the Taliban had captured the province, where they have been fighting the militant group for days.

“[The] Taliban are spreading lies and false information,” said Ali Nazary, a spokesman for Mr Massoud. “Panjshir has not fallen.”

But the Taliban likewise rejected the rumours and never claimed to have captured the province.

A Taliban leader told The National: “[I] can’t confirm if true has [I] have not received anything official.”

Rumours that Mr Massoud and Mr Saleh had fled the country also spread, but Mr Saleh dismissed the suggestion as “baseless” and “propaganda”.

“I am in Panjshir and had a number of meetings with commanders and political figures,” he said.

“We are controlling the situation. No doubt these are difficult times – we are being attacked by the Taliban […] but we are defending our land and country.”

On Saturday, Taliban leader Mawlawi Muhammad Yaqoub Mujahid said that anyone taking part in celebratory firing in the future would be disarmed, discharged and prosecuted in a court of law.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid took to Twitter to ask the group’s supporters to “avoid shooting in the air and thank God instead”.

“Bullets are more likely to harm civilians, so don’t shoot unnecessarily,” he said.

Updated: September 04, 2021, 2:48 PM