Taliban Destroy Statue of Foe, Stoking Fear Over Their Rule | World News

By AHMAD SEIR, RAHIM FAIEZ, KATHY GANNON and JOSEPH KRAUSS, Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban have blown up the statue of a Shiite militia chief who fought towards them throughout Afghanistan’s civil conflict within the Nineties, based on images circulating on Wednesday, sowing additional doubt about their claims to have turn into extra reasonable.

The insurgents’ each motion of their sudden sweep to energy is being watched intently. They insist they’ve modified and gained’t impose the identical draconian restrictions they did once they final dominated Afghanistan, all however eliminating ladies’s rights, finishing up public executions and banning tv and music.

They additionally promised to not search revenge towards those that have opposed them.

But many Afghans stay deeply skeptical, and 1000’s are racing to the airport and borders to flee the nation. Many others are hiding inside their houses, fearful after prisons and armories have been emptied in the course of the insurgents’ blitz throughout the nation.

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On Wednesday, teams of fighters carrying lengthy weapons patrolled a well-to-do neighborhood of the capital, Kabul, that’s residence to many embassies in addition to mansions of the Afghan elite. The Taliban have promised to keep up safety, however many Afghans are as afraid of them as they’re of potential chaos.

In a uncommon, early present of dissent, dozens of folks gathered within the japanese metropolis of Jalalabad and raised the Afghan nationwide flag in an anti-Taliban demonstration, based on Salim Ahmad, a neighborhood resident. He mentioned the Taliban fired within the air to disperse the gang. There have been no quick reviews of any casualties.

The insurgents have raised their very own flag — a white banner with Islamic inscriptions — within the territories they’ve seized.

As Afghans and the worldwide group look to see if the Taliban will make good on their guarantees, images circulated on social media of the destroyed statue. It depicted Abdul Ali Mazari, a militia chief killed by the Taliban in 1996, when the Islamic militants seized energy from rival warlords. Mazari was a champion of Afghanistan’s ethnic Hazara minority, Shiites who have been persecuted below the Sunni Taliban’s earlier rule.

The statue stood within the central Bamyan province, the place the Taliban infamously blew up two large 1,500-year-old statues of Buddha carved right into a mountain in 2001, shortly earlier than the U.S.-led invasion that drove them from energy. The Taliban claimed the Buddhas violated Islam’s prohibition on idolatry.

Another Taliban promise being intently watched is their vow to forestall Afghanistan from once more getting used as a base for planning terrorist assaults. That was enshrined in a 2020 peace cope with the Trump administration that paved the best way for the drawdown of American troops, the final of whom are supposed to go away on the finish of the month.

When the Taliban have been final in energy they sheltered Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida whereas they deliberate the Sept. 11, 2001, assaults. U.S. officers concern al-Qaida and different teams might reconstitute themselves in Afghanistan now that the Taliban are again in energy.

The Taliban have pledged to kind an “inclusive, Islamic government” and have been holding talks with former President Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, a senior official within the ousted authorities. Mohammad Yusof Saha, a spokesman for Karzai, mentioned preliminary conferences with Taliban officers would facilitate eventual negotiations with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the highest Taliban political chief.

Photos circulating on-line Wednesday confirmed Karzai and Abdullah assembly with Anas Haqqani, a senior chief in a strong Taliban faction. The U.S. branded the Haqqani community a terrorist group in 2012, and its involvement in a future authorities might set off worldwide sanctions.

Amid the uncertainty, 1000’s of Afghans have tried to flee the nation in current days, and the U.S. and its allies have struggled to handle a chaotic withdrawal from the nation. The Taliban took over the civilian aspect of the Kabul worldwide airport on Tuesday and have used drive to attempt to management the crowds.

Hundreds of folks have been outdoors the airport early Wednesday. The Taliban demanded to see paperwork earlier than permitting the uncommon passenger inside. Many of the folks outdoors didn’t seem to have passports, and every time the gate opened even an inch, dozens tried to push via. The Taliban fired occasional warning photographs to disperse them.

The U.S. Embassy has in the meantime relocated to the army aspect of the airport, the place it’s coordinating the airlift of diplomats, foreigners and Afghans who labored with the Americans and now concern reprisal.

The British authorities mentioned it’s going to welcome as much as 5,000 Afghan refugees this yr, and a complete of 20,000 Afghans will probably be provided a option to settle within the U.Okay. within the coming years.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to all those who have worked with us to make Afghanistan a better place over the last 20 years,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said late Tuesday.

The head of Afghanistan’s Central Bank meanwhile said the country’s supply of physical U.S. dollars is “close to zero.” Afghanistan has some $9 billion in reserves, Ajmal Ahmady tweeted, but most is held outside the country, with some $7 billion held in U.S. Federal Reserve bonds, assets and gold.

Ahmady said the country did not receive a planned cash shipment amid the Taliban offensive.

“The next shipment never arrived,” he wrote. “Seems like our partners had good intelligence as to what was going to happen.”

He mentioned the shortage of U.S. {dollars} will possible result in a depreciation of the native forex, the afghani, hurting the nation’s poor. Afghans have been lining up outdoors ATM machines for days, with many pulling out their life financial savings.

Ahmady mentioned the Taliban will battle to entry the nation’s reserves as a result of of worldwide sanctions.

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

Faiez reported from Istanbul, Gannon from Guelph, Canada, and Krauss from Jerusalem. Associated Press writers Sylvia Hui in London and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed.

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