Several Killed As Taliban Open Fire On Protesters: 10 Facts

How the Taliban handle the protests could determine whether people put faith in their assurances that they have changed since their 1996-2001 rule

Several Killed As Taliban Open Fire On Protesters: 10 Facts

People carry Afghan flags as they take part in an anti-Taliban protest in Jalalabad

Kabul: Flag-waving protesters took to the streets of several Afghan cities today as popular opposition to the Taliban spread, and a witness said several people were killed when the terrorists fired on a crowd.

Here's your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:

  1. "Our flag, our identity," a crowd of men and some 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 its 1919 independence from British control.

  2. The Taliban have presented a moderate face to the world since they marched into Kabul on Sunday, saying they want peace, will not take revenge against old enemies and will respect the rights of women within the framework of Islamic law.

  3. How the Taliban handle the protests, which have included people tearing down white Taliban flags, according to media, could determine whether people put faith in their assurances that they have changed since their 1996-2001 rule, when they severely restricted women, staged public executions and blew up ancient Buddhist statues.

  4. In Asadabad, capital of the eastern province of Kunar, several people were killed during a rally but it was not clear if the casualties resulted from Taliban firing or from a stampede that it triggered, witness Mohammed Salim said.

  5. Protesters also took to the streets of the city of Jalalabad and a district of Paktia province, both also in the east. On Wednesday, Taliban fighters fired at protesters waving flags in Jalalabad, killing three, witnesses and media reported. Media reported similar scenes in Asadabad and another eastern city, Khost, on Wednesday.

  6. First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who is trying to rally opposition to the Taliban, expressed support for the protests. "Salute those who carry the national flag and thus stand for dignity of the nation," he said on Twitter. Saleh said on Tuesday he was in Afghanistan and the "legitimate caretaker president" after President Ashraf Ghani fled as the Taliban took Kabul on Sunday.

  7. In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Amad Massoud, leader of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, based in the old anti-Taliban stronghold of the Panjshir Valley, northeast of Kabul, called for Western support to fight the Taliban.

  8. While Kabul has been generally calm since Taliban entered on Sunday, the airport has been in chaos as people rushed for a way out of the country. Twelve people have been killed in and around the airport since then, NATO and Taliban said. The deaths were caused either by gun shots or by stampedes, the Taliban said.

  9. On Wednesday, witnesses said Taliban prevented people from getting into the airport compound. The Taliban said soldiers had fired into the air to disperse the crowd. Gunmen unleashed sustained fire into the air on Thursday at several entrances to the airport, sending the crowds, including women clutching babies, scattering. It was not clear if the men firing were Taliban or security staff helping US forces inside.

  10. The United States and other Western powers pressed on with the evacuation of their nationals and some of their Afghan staff from the capital's airport, from where about 8,000 people have been flown out since Sunday, a Western security official said.