Protests continued to mire the Taliban’s efforts to govern Afghanistan on Thursday, the country’s Independence Day, while witnesses reported causalities as the group fired at protesters.
Afghanistan celebrates its 1919 independence from British control on August 19.
Videos shot by local journalists and witnesses showed protestors taking to the streets in Kabul, near the presidential palace, against Taliban rule, while the group’s fighters attempted to break up the protest violently waving their guns around.
Independence day protest in #kabul. Women and girls, men and boys screaming LONG LIVE #Afghanistan OUR NATIONAL FLAG IS OUR IDENTITY! They marched past #Taliban with some Talibs screaming back at protestors, waving their guns at them but finally the protestors passed. pic.twitter.com/yutJcmstAP— Jordan Bryon (@jordan_bryon) August 19, 2021
The Taliban also urged crowds of Afghans waiting outside the airport to return home, saying they did not want to hurt anyone, a day after the group's fighters fired at protesters.
On Wednesday, Taliban fighters fired at protesters waving the black, red and green national flag in Jalalabad, killing three, witnesses and media reported.
The extremist group struggled to govern the country after taking over and mounting a charm offensive targeted both locally and internationally in an effort to change their hardline image.
The Taliban insisted they have changed from their 1996-2001 era, promising to not seek revenge on government employees and soldiers, to respect the rights of women and rule the country “benevolently” under Islamic Sharia law.
The group’s spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, addressed the general public on Wednesday, saying: “Nobody is going to harm you, nobody is going to knock on your doors.”
And two days after the fall of Kabul, the group allowed an Afghan female presenter for the Tolo news channel to interview one of its officials. And the Afghani version of Sesame Street introduced the character Zeerak whose sole purpose is to promote respecting women.
However, local journalists and activists reported that the Taliban continued to perform a series of searches of homes and arrests.