Bloodshed as Afghans mark independence day with anti-Taliban protest

Bloodshed as Afghans mark independence day with anti-Taliban protest

Protests marking Afghanistan’s independence day were the scenes of bloodshed on Thursday as Taliban fighters shot at demonstrators in Kabul.

Eyewitnesses to the shootings in the Wazir Akbar Khan area, a diplomatic district in the Afghan capital, and Zanbaq Square said over 30 civilians were injured.

“They were also beating people up with their weapons. We don’t know how many were injured by that,” one witness said.

Official figures on casualties have not been released but independent witnesses told The National that at least 11 civilians had been killed in anti-Taliban protests across the city. In a similar incident on Wednesday, Taliban fire killed three civilians in the eastern city of Jalalabad during flag-hoisting demonstrations.

The 102nd Independence Day of Afghanistan was the first under Taliban rule in almost 20 years.

“But also the last, because we won’t allow a terrorist organisation to control us,” a protester said.

“We came out to celebrate our independence. We do not accept the Taliban,” said another, who asked only to be identified as Shamshad.

“We sacrificed thousands of lives to be who we are and we don’t want to give up our values and freedoms,” he said.

Mr Shamshad said he and his friends had come to Wazir Akbar Khan hill to re-hoist the large Afghan flag that once flew on its summit after it was removed by the Taliban.

The white Taliban flag is a more common sight since the group took over.

“But we faced clashes with the Taliban because they are against a democratic system and values. We lost 10 or 11 people and around another 30 got injured,” he said.

“They broke our cars and beat us up. They want to humiliate us, but we will continue to fight,” he added adamantly.

Read full report on The National