Protests against the Taliban takeover spread to more Afghan cities, including the capital Kabul, on Thursday, Reuters reported Tuesday. The Taliban called for unity on the eve of the first Friday prayers and called on “imams” (Islamic leaders) to persuade people not to flee Afghanistan.
A social media video showing a group of men and women waving black, red and green Afghan flags in Kabul as Afghanistan celebrates independence from British control in 1919. People chanted, “Our flag, our identity.” In some protests elsewhere, media reports said the Taliban’s white flag had been removed.
A witness said several people were killed when the Taliban opened fire on a crowd in the eastern city of Asadabad. Another witness reported that gunfire had also been heard near a rally in Kabul, but appeared to have only been fired into the air.
Reuters noted that while some demonstrations were small, they, combined with the desperate flight of thousands of Afghans from Afghanistan, highlighted the taliban’s governance challenges.
NATO and Taliban officials say Kabul has been largely calm, but 12 people have been killed inside and outside the airport.
The U.S. military says more than 5,200 U.S. soldiers are guarding Kabul airport, and multiple gates to the airport have now been opened. U.S. warplanes flew over Kabul to ensure the safety of diplomats and civilians, including some Afghan citizens.
Reuters said the Taliban’s rapid capture of Afghanistan, and even the Taliban leaders themselves, were surprised by the power vacuum left in many places as U.S. and other foreign troops withdrew.
Since seizing Kabul on Sunday, the Taliban have shown a more moderate outlook, claiming that they want peace, will not retaliate against their old enemies and will respect women’s rights within the framework of Islamic law, the report said.
On the other hand, Afghanistan’s first vice-president, Amrullah Saleh, said on Tuesday that he had become the country’s “legitimate caretaker president” after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled, writing on Twitter: “To those who hold the flag as a mark of national dignity.” ”
Ahmad Massoud, the son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the military leader of the Afghan resistance who was suspected of being killed by Taliban members in 2001, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that he was “ready to follow in my father’s footsteps and lead the mujahideen fighters against the Taliban again.” ”
In addition, U.S. President Joe Biden says the Taliban must decide whether they want international recognition. “Do they want to be recognized by the international community as a legitimate government?” Biden said in a television interview. I’m not sure they want to. ”
In an interview with NBC News, White House National Security Adviser Kevin Sullivan said the U.S. was “highly concerned” about the “possibility” of terrorist attacks by extremist groups such as the Islamic State.