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Afghanistan: Several killed in flag protests in defiance of Taliban
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Flag-waving protesters descended onto the streets of several cities across Afghanistan on Thursday, as numerous Afghans were killed by Taliban fighters who opened fire on the crowds.

In the first popular opposition since the Taliban's seized control of Kabul on Sunday, protesters took to the streets of the capital in defiance of the insurgents on the day that Afghanistan celebrates its 1919 independence from British control.

"Our flag, our identity," a crowd of men and some women waving black, red and green national flags shouted in the capital. Some of those marching also chanted "God is greatest".

How the Taliban handle the protests, which have included people tearing down white Taliban flags, could determine whether Afghans 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.

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.

Quote:"Hundreds of people came out on the streets," Mr Salim said. "At first I was scared and didn't want to go but when I saw one of my neighbours joined in, I took out the flag I have at home.

"Several people were killed and injured in the stampede and firing by the Taliban."

Protesters also took to the streets of the city of Jalalabad and a district of Paktia province, both in the east.

On Wednesday, Taliban fighters fired at protesters waving flags in Jalalabad, killing three. Similar scenes were witnessed in Asadabad and another eastern city, Khost, on Wednesday.

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.

Mr 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.

While Kabul has been generally calm since Taliban forces 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, a NATO and a Taliban official said. The deaths were caused either by gun shots or by stampedes.

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.

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.



https://news.yahoo.com/several-killed-fl...p_catchall
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