Three dead as Taliban open fire on protesters

Three dead as Taliban open fire on protesters
Parts of Kandahar in flames as fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security forces intensify on Aug. 12, 2021. (AP)
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Updated 18 August 2021

Three dead as Taliban open fire on protesters

Three dead as Taliban open fire on protesters
  • On Wednesday, evacuations from Kabul airport were ongoing as western countries scramble to take out their citizens and friendly Afghans

KABUL: At least three people were shot dead and more than a dozen wounded on Wednesday when Taliban fighters in Jalalabad opened fire on protesters trying to raise the Afghan flag.

The shootings came as Ashraf Ghani, the deposed president who fled the country when the Taliban swept into Kabul on Sunday, emerged in Abu Dhabi. The UAE government said it had given him and his family refuge “as a humanitarian gesture.”

In a video message, Ghani said allegations that he had smuggled several million dollars out of Afghanistan were “baseless lies.” He said he was “in consultation with others until I return to continue my efforts for justice for Afghans.”

The Taliban opened fire in the eastern city of Jalalabad, 150km from Kabul on the main road toward Pakistan, when protesters in the main square removed Taliban flags and tried to display the Afghan tricolor.

Taliban commanders and soldiers also fired into the air to disperse crowds outside Kabul airport, from where thousands are trying to flee. “Everyone wants out,” said one Afghan man who arrived in Frankfurt with his wife and son on a flight via Tashkent. “We saved ourselves but we couldn’t rescue our families.”

About 5,000 diplomats, security staff, aid workers and Afghan civilians had been evacuated from Kabul in the past 24 hours and military flights would continue around the clock, a Western official said. “It’s absolutely hectic and chaos out there,” the official said.

The UN began moving up to 100 international staff to Kazakhstan but said the measure was temporary and it was “committed to staying and delivering in support of the Afghan people in their hour of need.”

The UN has about 300 international staff and 3,000 local staff in Afghanistan.

In Kabul, the Taliban held talks with former President Hamid Karzai and leading politician Abdullah Abdullah to form what they described as an “inclusive, Islamic government.” Karzai and Abdullah met Anas Haqqani, a senior leader of the Haqqani network, a powerful Taliban faction.

Mohammed Yusof Saha, a spokesman for Karzai, said preliminary meetings would lead to negotiations with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban political leader who flew from Qatar to Kandahar on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the US Treasury has frozen the Afghan government’s accounts and halted direct assistance payments. Ajmal Ahmady Ahmady, head of Afghanistan’s central bank, said the country’s physical supply of US dollars was “close to zero.” He said this would lead to a depreciation of the local currency, the afghani, hurting the country’s poor.

“The Taliban won militarily, but now have to govern,” he said. “It is not easy.”