Taliban urges Afghan Imams to call for unity during Friday prayers

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The Taliban urged Afghan imams to try to counter negative reports about the movement and persuade people not to try to flee the country ahead of the first Friday prayers since the dramatic seizure of Kabul on Sunday.

In a message on Thursday as disorderly crowds continued to wait outside Kabul airport for flights out of the country, the Taliban said it hoped all imams in Kabul and the provinces would promote the benefits of the Islamic system and urge unity.

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It said they should “encourage our compatriots to work for the development of the country, and not to try to leave the country” and answer “the negative propaganda of the enemy.”

The message came as flag-waving protesters took to the streets of more Afghan cities on Thursday as popular opposition to the Taliban takeover spread, and a witness said several people were killed when the militants fired on a crowd in Asadabad in the east.

“Our flag, our identity,” a crowd of men and women waving black, red and green national flags shouted in the capital Kabul, a video clip posted on social media showed, on the day Afghanistan celebrates independence from British control in 1919.

A witness reported gunshots fired near the rally, but they appeared to be armed Taliban shooting in the air.

One woman walked wearing an Afghan flag around her shoulders, and those marching chanted "God is greatest". At some protests elsewhere, media have reported people tearing down the white flag of the Taliban.

Some of the demonstrations are small, but combined with the ongoing scramble by thousands of people to get to Kabul airport and flee the country, they underline the challenge the Taliban face to govern the country.

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