Armed Taliban gunmen fired into the air on Tuesday to disperse protesters in the Afghan capital, Kabul, witnesses said.
Hundreds of men and women chanting slogans such as “Long live the resistance” and “Death to Pakistan” took to the streets to protest the Taliban takeover. Neighboring Pakistan has deep ties to the Taliban and is accused of helping the Islamist group return to power – allegations it denies.
“The Islamic government is shooting at our poor people,” said a panicked woman in the street over gunshots in a video clip shown on Iran’s television news. However, there were no immediate reports of injuries.
The Taliban’s rapid advance through Afghanistan when US troops withdrew last month sparked a race to leave by people fearing reprisals.
US-led foreign forces evacuated about 124,000 foreigners and high-risk Afghans, but tens of thousands were left behind.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was in contact with about 100 Americans still in Afghanistan.
About 1,000 people, including Americans, have been trapped for days in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif awaiting permission for charter flights to depart, an organizer told Reuters, blaming the US State Department for the delay.
Blinken, who held talks in Qatar, a key Taliban interlocutor, said the issue was one of the documents.
“I understand that the Taliban has not denied entry to anyone with a valid document, but they have said those without valid documents cannot leave at this time,” he told reporters.
“Because all these people are together, that means no flights are allowed… We are not aware of anyone being held on an airplane, or any hostage-like situation.”
At the same press conference, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said an agreement had not yet been reached with the Taliban on how Qatar and its partner Turkey can get Kabul airport operational again.
“We hope that in the coming days we can reach a level where the airport is operational for passengers and also for humanitarian aid,” he said.
Turkey says it wants to provide security at the airport to protect Turkish personnel and secure operations, but the Taliban have insisted that no foreign troops be present.
On Monday, Islamist militants claimed victory in the Panjshir Valley, the last province to hold back, and promised to appoint a government soon.
Photos on social media showed Taliban members standing in front of the Panjshir governor’s property after days of fighting with the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRFA), commanded by Panjshiri leader Ahmad Massoud.
Massoud denied that his force, consisting of remnants of the Afghan army and local militias, had been beaten.
“We are in Panjshir and our resistance will continue,” he tweeted. He said he was safe, but didn’t say where.
The Taliban have repeatedly tried to reassure Afghans and other countries that they will not return to the brutality of their last government two decades ago, characterized by violent public punishment and the exclusion of women and girls from public life.
But more than three weeks after taking Kabul, they have yet to make their plans.
When asked whether Washington would recognize the Taliban, US President Joe Biden told reporters at the White House on Monday, “That’s a long way off.”
Teachers and students at universities in Afghanistan’s largest cities – Kabul, Kandahar and Herat – told Reuters that female students were segregated in class with curtains, taught separately or confined to some campus areas.
“It is not acceptable to hang curtains,” Anjila, a 21-year-old student at Kabul University, said by phone.
“I felt really terrible when I entered the class… We are gradually going back to 20 years ago.”
The conflict in Afghanistan, combined with drought and the coronavirus, has left 18 million people — nearly half of the population — in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
It said tens of thousands of families made their way to shelters in urban areas but found they had no food or income.
“Basic services in Afghanistan are collapsing and food and other life-saving aid is at risk,” Jens Laerke, spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told a news conference in Geneva, urging more aid in the run-up to an international donor conference on 13 September.
The World Health Organization is in contact with Qatar regarding supplies of urgently needed medical supplies, said Rick Brennan, WHO regional emergency response director.
Drought and war have forced about 5.5 million Afghans to flee their homes, including more than 550,000 newly displaced by 2021, the International Organization for Migration says.
Western powers say they are ready to send humanitarian aid, but that broader economic involvement depends on the form and actions of the Taliban government.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)