Afghanistan crisis updates | Taliban disperse Kabul rally, arrest journalists

Afghan women shout slogans during an anti-Pakistan protest rally, near the Pakistan embassy in Kabul on September 7, 2021.   | Photo Credit: AFP

As many Afghans took out to streets staging small, isolated demonstrations in cities including the capital Kabul, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif, the Taliban on Tuesday fired shots into the air to disperse crowds. The protesters, mainly women, had gathered for an anti-Pakistan rally in the capital, the latest protest since the hardline Islamist movement swept to power last month.

Tuesday's demonstration comes after the Taliban claimed total control over Afghanistan a day earlier, saying they had won the key battle for the Panjshir Valley, the last holdout of resistance against their rule.

The National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRFA), however, rejected their claim and said "the NRF forces are present in all strategic positions across the valley to continue the fight" against the Taliban.

"Panjshir, which was the last hideout of the escapee enemy, is captured," Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid had said in a press conference on Monday. However, Ahmad Massoud, son of a hero of the resistance to the Soviets and the Taliban, remained defiant and said that the NRFA is still fighting strategically and that the valley is still not captured by Taliban.

Earlier on Monday, Taliban announced that Mullah Baradar, the militant group co-founder would head the government. Hours after this announcement, The Taliban, however, postponed the formation of the government by a week.

Here are the latest developments:

5.30 pm

Taliban disperse Kabul rally, arrest journalists

The Taliban have fired gunshots to disperse a rally on Tuesday in Kabul and arrested several Afghan journalists who were covering the demonstration, witnesses and Afghan media outlets said.

The protest began outside the Pakistan Embassy in the Afghan capital to denounce what the demonstrators allege as Pakistan's interference in Afghanistan, especially Islamabad's alleged support for the latest Taliban offensive that routed anti-Taliban fighters in Panjshir province.

Posts on social media demanded the release of the arrested reporters.— AP

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2.15 pm

Taliban fire shots to disperse protesters in Kabul

The Taliban on Tuesday fired shots into the air to disperse crowds who had gathered for an anti-Pakistan rally in the capital, the latest protest since the hardline Islamist movement swept to power last month.

The Islamists have yet to announce a government, but Afghans — fearful of a repeat of the group's previous brutal reign between 1996 and 2001 — have staged small, isolated demonstrations in cities including the capital Kabul, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif.

On Tuesday at least 70 people, mostly women, rallied outside the Pakistani embassy, holding banners and chanting against what they said was meddling by Islamabad, who have long been accused of having close ties to the Taliban movement. - AFP

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2.10 pm

Somewhere around 100 Americans still in Afghanistan: U.S Secretary of State

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that U.S. believes somewhere around 100 american citizenns, many of them dual nationals, are still in Afghanistan. Mr. Blinken further added that "we are in touch with almost all of them".

He further said that United States is working to make sure charter flights can leave Afghanistan safely.

Speaking in Qatar at a press conference alongside Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Blinken said Taliban officials had told the U.S. they will let people with travel documents freely depart Afghanistan .

- Reuters

2 pm

Kabul airport receiving humanitarian aid flights, says Qatar's Foreign Minister

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, has said that Kabul airport is receiving humanitarian aid flights from various countries.

Mr. Al-Thani said that he hoped for the Kabul airport to be "up and running" for the passengers in a few days.

- Reuters

12:30 pm

Pakistan not setting up new camps for Afghan refugees: Pak's Interior Minister

Pakistan is not setting up any new camp to accommodate Afghan refugees trying to flee the war-ravaged neighbouring country after the Taliban seized power in Kabul, country's Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad has said.

Mr. Rashid said that there are no Afghan refugees at the border and the government has not established any camp in the area, the Business Recorder newspaper reported.

Mr. Rashid's statement came on Sunday during his visit to the Torkham border after reports that people were massing at the border and trying to enter Pakistan which already has been hosting about three million Afghan refugees.

- PTI

11 am

78 Afghanistan evacuees released from ITBP quarantine centre

78 people including Afghan nationals, who were evacuated from Afghanistan after Kabul fell to Taliban last month, were on Tuesday discharged from an Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) facility in New Delhi after they completed a 14-day quarantine rule in place to check the spread of coronavirus infection.

The group includes 53 people from Afghanistan (34 men, nine women and 10 children), and 25 Indians (18 men, five women and 12 children), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) spokesperson Vivek Kumar Pandey said.

They were handed over medical certificates and a red rose as they left the facility. The Afghan nationals have been sent to a designated location in south Delhi while the Indians are expected to go to their homes, a senior officer said.

The facility still has 35 people, who returned from Afghanistan, under quarantine that includes 24 Indians and the rest from Nepal.

- PTI

10 am

U.S.-built databases a potential tool of Taliban repression

Over two decades, the United States and its allies spent hundreds of millions of dollars building databases for the Afghan people. The nobly stated goal: Promote law and order and government accountability and modernize a war-ravaged land.

But in the Taliban's lightning seizure of power, most of that digital apparatus — including biometrics for verifying identities — apparently fell into Taliban hands. Built with few data-protection safeguards, it risks becoming the high-tech jackboots of a surveillance state. As the Taliban get their governing feet, there are worries it will be used for social control and to punish perceived foes.

“It is a terrible irony,” said Frank Pasquale, Brooklyn Law School scholar of surveillance technologies. “It's a real object lesson in The road to hell is paved with good intentions.'” Since Kabul fell August 15, indications have emerged that government data may have been used in Taliban efforts to identify and intimidate Afghans who worked with the U.S. forces.

- AP

9.30 am

About 1,000 people, including Americans, stuck in northern Afghanistan

About 1,000 people, including Americans, have been stuck in northern Afghanistan for days awaiting clearance for charter flights to leave, an organiser told Reuters, blaming the delay on the U.S. State Department.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, challenged the idea that Americans were at risk, saying the U.S. government "has not confirmed any Americans are in Mazar-i-Sharif trying to leave from the airport."

- Reuters

8.30 am

Afghanistan T20 tournament postponed, says official

Afghanistan’s professional T20 cricket tournament, which was due to start on Friday, has been postponed, an official from the country's cricket board (ACB) told Reuters.

The Shpageeza Cricket League was due to feature eight franchises – up from 2020’s six – including holders The Kabul Eagles.

Top Afghani players, including world number three T20 bowler, leg-spinner Rashid Khan, were set to play in the 15-day league, which was expected to be contested across the country.

- Reuters

8.15 am

Qatar's Emir discusses Afghanistan with U.S. Secretaries of State and Defence

Qatar's ruling Emir and the visiting U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense discussed developments in Afghanistan and efforts to enhance security there, the emir's court said on Monday.

The Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, received U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin after their arrival in Doha earlier in the day.

The visit came with Washington seeking support for the evacuation of Americans and at-risk Afghans left behind in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover and build a consensus among allies on how to respond to the new Islamist rulers.

- Reuters

8 am

International community should enhance engagements with Afghanistan: Pak Foreign Minister

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday urged the international community to enhance engagements with Afghanistan with positive messaging and through constructive actions.

He was talking to Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, who was in Islamabad on a two-day visit to discuss the latest developments in Afghanistan as well as bilateral relations with Pakistan, according to a statement by the Foreign Office.

“It was vital to support the Afghan people at this critical juncture,” he said and emphasised the importance of stabilising the security situation in Afghanistan, preserving the peace and preventing any mass exodus of Afghans as refugees.

-PTI

7.45 am

Khalsa Aid India provides help to Afghan students

Khalsa Aid India, an NGO for providing aid to needy people, Monday said it is providing ration kits and other items to Afghan students studying in Punjab "We have been receiving emergency calls, mails, request calls from students from Afghanistan seeking immediate relief in their food and other needs. Our teams across Punjab respond to these calls immediately and we will continue assisting these students till it is required as they deserve a dignified stay in our country," Japneet Singh, trustee of the Khalsa Aid India, said in a statement.

Around 200 students who are studying in different colleges and universities in Punjab have been assisted so far, it said.

- PTI

7.30 am

U.S. helped family escape Afghanistan overland

The United States is confirming for the first time that it has helped a U.S. citizen and family members to escape Afghanistan through an overland route to a neighbouring country.

A US official says Monday that the citizen and the citizen's children “successfully departed Afghanistan using an overland route” and were met by U.S. Embassy staff at the border.

- PTI

7 am

Taliban claim control of Panjshir, opposition says resistance will continue

Members of the Taliban Badri 313 military unit stand beside damaged and discarded vehicles parked near the destroyed CIA base in Deh Sabz district on September 6.

Members of the Taliban Badri 313 military unit stand beside damaged and discarded vehicles parked near the destroyed CIA base in Deh Sabz district on September 6.   | Photo Credit: AFP

The Taliban claimed victory on Monday in the last part of Afghanistan still holding out against their rule, declaring that the capture of the Panjshir valley completed their takeover of the country, and they would unveil a new government soon.

"Panjshir, which was the last hideout of the escapee enemy, is captured," Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told a press conference.

However, Ahmad Massoud, son of a hero of the resistance to the Soviets and the Taliban, remained defiant. He said his force, drawn from the remnants of the regular Afghan army as well as local militia fighters, was still fighting.

"We are in Panjshir and our Resistance will continue," he said on Twitter. He also said he was safe, but gave no details on his whereabouts.

- Reuters

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