Taliban violently disperse rare protest; 1 killed, 6 wounded

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By AHMAD SEIR, RAHIM FAIEZ, KATHY GANNON and JOSEPH KRAUSS, Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban violently broke up a protestation successful eastbound Afghanistan connected Wednesday, sidesplitting astatine slightest 1 idiosyncratic arsenic they quashed a uncommon nationalist amusement of dissent. The militant radical meantime met with erstwhile officials from the toppled Western-backed government.

The insurgents' each enactment successful their abrupt expanse to powerfulness is being watched closely. They importune they person changed and won’t enforce the aforesaid draconian restrictions they did erstwhile they past ruled Afghanistan, each but eliminating women’s rights, carrying retired nationalist executions and harboring al-Qaida successful the years earlier the 9/11 attacks.

But galore Afghans stay profoundly skeptical, and the convulsive effect to Wednesday's protestation could lone substance their fears. Thousands are racing to the airdrome and borders to fly the country. Many others are hiding wrong their homes, fearful aft prisons and armories were emptied during the insurgents’ blitz crossed the country.

Dozens of radical gathered successful the eastbound metropolis of Jalalabad to rise the nationalist emblem a time earlier Afghanistan's Independence Day, which commemorates the extremity of British regularisation successful 1919. They lowered the Taliban emblem — a achromatic banner with an Islamic inscription — that the militants person raised successful the areas they captured.

Video footage aboriginal showed the Taliban firing into the aerial and attacking radical with batons to disperse the crowd. Babrak Amirzada, a newsman for a section quality agency, said helium and a TV cameraman from different bureau were beaten by the Taliban arsenic they tried to screen the unrest.

A section wellness authoritative said astatine slightest 1 idiosyncratic was killed and six wounded. The authoritative was not authorized to talk to media and truthful spoke connected information of anonymity.

Meanwhile, videos from the Panjshir Valley northbound of Kabul, a stronghold of the Northern Alliance militias that allied with the U.S. against the Taliban successful 2001, look to amusement imaginable absorption figures gathering there. It's successful the lone state that hasn't yet fallen to the Taliban.

Those figures see members of the deposed authorities — Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who asserted connected Twitter that helium is the country’s rightful president and Defense Minister Gen. Bismillah Mohammadi — arsenic good arsenic Ahmad Massoud, the lad of the slain Northern Alliance person Ahmad Shah Massoud. It's unclear if they mean to situation to the Taliban, who seized astir of the state successful a substance of days past week.

The Taliban, meanwhile, pressed up with their efforts to signifier an “inclusive, Islamic government.” They person been holding talks with erstwhile President Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, a elder authoritative successful the ousted government. Mohammad Yusof Saha, a spokesperson for Karzai, said preliminary meetings with Taliban officials would facilitate eventual negotiations with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the apical Taliban governmental leader, who returned to the state this week.

Karzai and Abdullah met Wednesday with Anas Haqqani, a elder person successful a almighty Taliban faction. The U.S. branded the Haqqani web a violent radical successful 2012, and its engagement successful a aboriginal authorities could trigger planetary sanctions.

Amid the uncertainty, thousands of Afghans person tried to fly the state successful caller days, and the U.S. and its allies person struggled to negociate a chaotic withdrawal from the country.

Hundreds of radical were extracurricular the airdrome aboriginal Wednesday. The Taliban demanded to spot documents earlier allowing the uncommon rider inside. Many of the radical extracurricular did not look to person passports, and each clip the gross opened adjacent an inch, dozens tried to propulsion through. The Taliban fired occasional informing shots to disperse them.

In Kabul, groups of Taliban fighters carrying agelong guns patrolled a well-to-do vicinity that is location to galore embassies arsenic good arsenic mansions of the Afghan elite.

The Taliban person promised to support security, but residents accidental groups of equipped men person been going doorway to doorway inquiring astir Afghans who worked with the Americans oregon the deposed government. It’s unclear if the gunmen are Taliban oregon criminals posing arsenic militants.

Another Taliban committedness being intimately watched is their vow to forestall Afghanistan from again being utilized arsenic a basal for readying violent attacks. That was enshrined successful a 2020 bid woody with the Trump medication that paved the mode for the drawdown of American troops, the past of whom are expected to permission astatine the extremity of the month.

When the Taliban were past successful powerfulness they sheltered Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida group, which carried retired the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. U.S. officials fearfulness al-Qaida and different groups could reconstitute themselves successful Afghanistan present that the Taliban are backmost successful power.

Elsewhere successful Afghanistan, the Taliban blew up a statue depicting Abdul Ali Mazari, a militia person killed by the Taliban successful 1996, erstwhile the Islamic militants seized powerfulness from rival warlords. Mazari was a champion of Afghanistan’s taste Hazara minority, Shiites who were persecuted nether the Sunni Taliban’s earlier rule. That further raised concerns astir whether they would marque bully connected their promises, including not seeking revenge connected those who person opposed them.

In a motion of the difficulties immoderate aboriginal Afghan authorities volition face, the caput of Afghanistan’s Central Bank said the country's proviso of carnal U.S. dollars is “close to zero." Afghanistan has immoderate $9 cardinal successful reserves, Ajmal Ahmady tweeted, but astir is held extracurricular the country, with immoderate $7 cardinal held successful U.S. Federal Reserve bonds, assets and gold.

Ahmady said the state did not person a planned currency shipment amid the Taliban offensive.

“The adjacent shipment ne'er arrived,” helium wrote. “Seems similar our partners had bully quality arsenic to what was going to happen.”

He said the deficiency of U.S. dollars volition apt pb to a depreciation of the section currency, the afghani, hurting the country's poor. Afghans person been lining up extracurricular ATM machines for days, with galore pulling retired their beingness savings.

Ahmady said the Taliban volition conflict to entree the country's reserves due to the fact that of planetary sanctions.

The “Taliban won militarily — but present person to govern,” helium wrote. “It is not easy.”

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Faiez reported from Istanbul, Gannon from Guelph, Canada, and Krauss from Jerusalem. Associated Press writers Sylvia Hui successful London and Jon Gambrell successful Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed.

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