Picking up right where they left off yesterday, the cuddly "reformed" Taliban continued to violently suppress demonstrations by Afghans opposed to living under their strict interpretation of Sharia Law both in Kabul, and in cities across the country, as demonstrations continued in conjunction with Afghanistan's "Independence Day" holiday on Thursday. The occasion marks the anniversary of the Anglo-Afghan treaty of 1919.
Less than 24 hours after a Taliban spokesman promised the organization wouldn't commit violent acts of reprisals against Afghans who worked with the former regime, and the Americans, militants killed at least three (possibly as many as 4) people in Jalalabad on Wednesday, before killing an unkown number of people on Thursday when they violently suppressed an Independence Day demonstration in Asadabad.
A curfew in the city of Herat was declared after demonstrations there yesterday.
Roads and bazaars in Khost city are deserted after the curfew— Afghanistan 24/7 (@AfghanUpdates) August 19, 2021
Taliban announced a curfew yesterday after a riot in the city pic.twitter.com/AoP9SD2ZqB
Footage of an unknown man who appears to have been executed, reportedly in the city of Jalalabad, also made the rounds on social media.
Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid officially declared the creation of the new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in a tweet on Thursday marking the anniversary of Afghanistan's independence from the UK (for an explanation as to why the Taliban are still allowed to use twitter, while President Trump is banned, see here).
The NYT reports that a crowd of approximately 200 gathered in Kabul on Thursday to celebrate Afghan Independence and protest against the Taliban's rule. Demonstrators waved the Afghan national flag and, at one point, marched by the presidential palace, before the rally was violently broken up. Per the NYT, "several people" were killed in the eastern city of Asadabad. "It was not clear whether the casualties had come from the gunshots or from a stampede they set off."
The report continued: "It was also further evidence that while tens of thousands are now seeking escape, there were many more left behind and determined to have a voice in the kind of state where they live."
As they scramble to set up their own government, the Taliban are struggling to manage the city of Kabul, as many critical government workers continue to hide in their homes. There is no official police force: instead Taliban soldiers are "administering the law as they fit" via impromptu patrols. Electricity, sanitation and clean water could soon be impacted, aid agencies say, if engineers and other critical workers aren't returned to their posts.
The NYT also added that Taliban members are "ntensifying a search for people who they believe worked with U.S. and NATO forces, including among the crowds of Afghans at Kabul’s airport, and have threatened to kill or arrest their family members if they cannot find them." So much for "amnesty."
As demonstrations against the Taliban continued on Thursday, ousted Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who's declared himself Afghanistan's "caretaker president" from the Panjshir Valley, the last pocket of Taliban resistance, praised the protesters on Thursday for their "courageous and patriotic movement." Saleh is part of an opposition group in the valley, north of Kabul in the Hindu Kush, which is seeking to revive the Northern Alliance, a network of warlords who helped the US oust the Taliban from power back in the early days of the war.
At the airport in Kabul, crowds continued to camp out on Thursday while US troops sought to quiet the chaos and accelerate evacuations. More refugees landed in Spain and Germany, per the NYT.
- A Spanish military plane landed before dawn at Torrejon air base outside Madrid, one of three aircraft that the Spanish defense ministry has sent to evacuate citizens and Afghans who worked with the Spanish government, along with their families.
- Afghan refugees who arrived in Germany, some cradling children, described harrowing scenes outside the airport in Kabul, the Afghan capital, where Taliban soldiers have blocked the entrances and beat back crowds by firing rifles and occasionally hitting people with sticks and hoses.
Still, while the situation at the airport had reportedly calmed down, videos of chaotic scenes continued to leak to the Internet.
At least a dozen people were killed in and around the Hamid Karzai International Airport on Sunday, Reuters reported Thursday, citing unnamed Taliban and NATO officials.
As Afghanistan's Independence Day draws to a close, we'll be keeping an eye out for any more reports of violence in the country, which is rapidly emptying of westerners as the new Taliban-controlled Emirate has given them only until the end of the month to leave.