Several killed after Taliban fire on protesters in Afghan city: Report
- In the first signs of popular opposition to the insurgents, the protesters in Asadabad were reportedly waving the national flag after tearing down the white flags of the Taliban.
Despite the promise of peace in Afghanistan, the Taliban on Thursday fired on protesters waving the national flag in the city of Asadabad which led to a stampede, killing many, reported news agency Reuters. In the first signs of popular opposition to the insurgents, the protesters in Asadabad were reportedly waving the national flag after tearing down the white flags of the Taliban. It isn’t clear whether the casualties resulted directly from the firing or the subsequent stampede.
"Hundreds of people came out on the streets," Reuters quoted a witness named Mohammed Salim as saying. "At first I was scared and didn't want to go but when I saw one of my neighbours joined in I took out the flag I have at home."
"Several people were killed and injured in the stampede and firing by the Taliban," the witness from the eastern city, the capital of Kunar province, added.
The Taliban has not commented on the incident yet.
The local media has reported about similar protests in the eastern city of Jalalabad and a district of Paktia province with no reports of serious violence.
Afghanistan celebrates independence from British control on August 19 every year, and many took the opportunity to protest against the Islamist fundamentalist group. On Wednesday, similar scenes were reported in Asadabad and another eastern city, Khost, with protesters tearing down the white banner of the Taliban in some areas.
Afghanistan's first vice president Amrullah Saleh, who recently declared himself the "caretaker" president following Ashraf Ghani's escape, voiced support for those carrying the national flag. "Salute those who carry the national flag & thus stand for dignity of the nation & the country," he tweeted.
The latest firing will again raise questions about the Taliban’s assurances of them being a moderate group as against their extremist version when they ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, before they were ousted by the US-led foreign forces.
(With agency inputs)