Afghanistan evacuation: Chaos at Kabul airport as women beg troops for help


Panicked screams mixed with the sound of gunfire at Kabul airport today amid fresh chaos as thousands of Afghans desperate to escape Taliban rule pleaded with troops to be allowed on the only planes out of the country.

Women were filmed reaching their hands through iron railings towards US troops while screaming ‘the Taliban are coming’ in footage being circulated on Afghan social media accounts this morning.

Meanwhile more footage captured gunshots ringing out among crowds at the airport’s north gate overnight and this morning as men, women, and children huddled nearby, barely flinching as bullets were fired into the sky.

Taliban gunmen have now surrounded the airport – the only route out of Afghanistan for thousands of refugees stranded in the capital and nearby provinces – and are checking the documents of those trying to reach it. 

That means that Afghan translators and others holding visas that would allow them on the evacuation flights are in hiding close to the airport, afraid to break cover and try to reach the runway in case the Taliban hauls them away. 

In a sign of how dire the situation has become, White House spokesman Jen Psaki was forced to admit on Tuesday that there is no guarantee that all US citizens and visa holders will be able to leave the country before troops pull out on August 31.

 ‘Our focus right now is on the task at hand, and that is day by day getting as many American citizens, SIV applicants, as many of the vulnerable population who are eligible to be evacuated to the airport and out on planes,’ she said.

Flights that were supposed to be carrying thousands of people out of the country each day have so-far been taking off with just a few hundred aboard, with the UK evacuating some 370 people between Sunday and Monday.

General Sir Nick Carter, head of the UK armed forces, told BBC Radio 4 that Britain ‘hopes’ to get 1,000 people out today with seven evacuation flights going into the country – though was forced to admit that is only possible due to ‘collaboration’ with the Taliban.

He also flatly denied reports that people are struggling to get to the airport, saying: ‘Subject to the situation remaining calm, which the Taliban are working hard to achieve alongside us, the system will work.’ 

Women were filmed pleading with US troops that the 'Taliban are coming' in footage that appeared to have been taken at Kabul airport this morning as thousands of desperate Afghans try to flee Islamist rule

Women were filmed pleading with US troops that the ‘Taliban are coming’ in footage that appeared to have been taken at Kabul airport this morning as thousands of desperate Afghans try to flee Islamist rule

Taliban gunmen have surrounded the airport (pictured) with gunshots fired over the heads of arriving passengers, with British forces admitting that evacuations are only taking place with their 'consent'

Taliban gunmen have surrounded the airport (pictured) with gunshots fired over the heads of arriving passengers, with British forces admitting that evacuations are only taking place with their ‘consent’

While thousands of people have arrived at Kabul airport trying to get on flights out of the country (pictured), some western visa holders on the ground have said they are in hiding nearby for fear Taliban gunmen will target them

While thousands of people have arrived at Kabul airport trying to get on flights out of the country (pictured), some western visa holders on the ground have said they are in hiding nearby for fear Taliban gunmen will target them

Taliban gunmen patrol through crowds of desperate Afghans at Kabul airport today, as people try to board planes out of the country fearing for their safety under Islamist rule

Taliban gunmen patrol through crowds of desperate Afghans at Kabul airport today, as people try to board planes out of the country fearing for their safety under Islamist rule

Crowds pictured outside Kabul airport on Wednesday morning, which is now the only viable route out of the country for thousands of refugees trapped in the capital

Crowds pictured outside Kabul airport on Wednesday morning, which is now the only viable route out of the country for thousands of refugees trapped in the capital

Taliban gunmen opened fire on crowds late Tuesday, with images showing a bloodied child being carried by a man while a woman lay wounded in the road

Taliban gunmen opened fire on crowds late Tuesday, with images showing a bloodied child being carried by a man while a woman lay wounded in the road

‘If I hear once more that the airport is safe – it’s not’: Westerners trying to flee Kabul tell of being groped and crushed while trying to navigate impassable melee of locals at Taliban checkpoints outside only airstrip providing flights to safety 

Western nationals trying to flee Kabul have described being crushed and groped during a stampede of Afghans held at Taliban checkpoints outside the airstrip providing evacuation flights as Afghanistan is taken over by the Islamist terror group. 

Armed militants have surrounded the capital’s airport and seized control of all access points, meaning they they can decide who stays and who leaves the Middle Eastern state as the Taliban plunge Afghanistan back into what locals and many Western governments fear will be Islamic tyranny. 

Ex-Royal Marine commando Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing described how his wife and pregnant employee, from whom he has been separated, had been ‘crushed, groped and pushed’ by crowds outside the airport – and had been denied entry by British and US troops stationed there.

In videos posted to Facebook, Farthing said they are now in a secure British location, but furiously urged Boris Johnson to ‘get his s**t together’ and slammed ‘snake’ Joe Biden’s ‘absolutely disgusting’ withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan following the 20-year Western intervention. 

He also took fire at the British troops who allegedly prevented his wife from entering Kabul airport, adding: ‘They should not be wearing the beret of Her Majesty’s British forces if they’re not prepared to open that gate for a pregnant woman.’

One female student also described how she feared she would be crushed to death by panicking crowds at Kabul airport. Speaking to MailOnline, Aisha Ahmad – who studies in the capital – said: ‘People had heard that the Americans were letting people onto the aircraft to get them out of the country.

‘I didn’t believe it at first, but then I went to the airport and saw that people had been allowed onto the tarmac without any checks, so I thought maybe it was true.

‘There were thousands of people inside the airport. Then at one point we were all pushed back by the Taliban police to get us out of the airport and women and children were trampled under people’s feet.

‘I couldn’t breathe in the crush and I really thought I was going to die. My feet are all swollen and covered in bruises. We thought there was a flight going to Germany which we might get on, but in the end they only took German nationals on board.’  

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce today that the UK will take 25,000 Afghan refugees over five years including 5,000 this year – though it is unclear how exactly those people will get out of the country.

Such an operation would take months to complete at the current rate, even assuming all those who want to leave can reach the airport, and it is unclear how long the Taliban will allow the current airport amnesty to last.

Meanwhile the US has said it may issue up to 80,000 special immigrant visas to provide a route out of the country for its Afghan allies,  

Tempers were already fraying around the airport on Tuesday as gunmen opened fire into crowds, with harrowing images showing a young child with a bloodied head being carried by a man while a woman lay wounded in the road behind them.

The US army’s General Frank McKenzie is leading 6,000 US troops and 900 British soldiers who are trying to evacuate as many as 50,000 Afghan refugees and thousands of other foreign citizens, including aid workers and diplomats, who live in Kabul.

For the moment, the Taliban say they are giving ‘amnesty’ to foreigners who wish to leave. But amid tense scenes at the capital, which fell to insurgents with astonishing rapidity, fears are growing that the tentative calm could fall apart at any moment.

Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key, who is running the British evacuation operation, told the BBC the UK will be bringing back as many people as it can, as quickly as possible, until either demand is met or ‘the security situation means that we’re no longer operating with consent’.

But eligible individuals have to make the trip to the airport themselves when called to do so, and the Taliban now control the access points, he added.

Sir Ben said that his forces face a race against time, and they are ‘alive to the uncertainty’ of the situation.

The White House today confirmed that the Taliban had promised that civilians could travel safely to the Kabul airport, but reports of insurgents beating and shooting Afghans trying to enter could rattle the uneasy deal between the country’s new rulers and their Western adversaries.

Gen. McKenzie, whose forces now operate in a country almost completely dominated by the Taliban, has warned that his troops will respond forcefully to defend the airport if necessary, as US troops, backed by British SAS and Royal Marines special forces, guard the perimeter with snipers on rooftops, and machine gunners and armored cars guard the runway.

Truck-loads of Taliban fighters armed with AK-47s and rocket launchers now wait outside the airport and man the gates into it, as their blood-soaked organisation returns to power following a 20-year conflict with a global superpower that had sought to destroy them.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 12 flights had taken off, many heading to nearby cities like Doha, while others have landed at RAF bases in Cyprus.

But tens of thousands of desperate civilians who worked for the coalition are still stuck in Kabul and facing certain death unless they can be flown out of the country.

The Pentagon says it is aiming to have a flight out of Kabul every hour so that it can evacuate 9,000 people per day.

It comes after Taliban leaders held an extraordinary press conference on Tuesday to proclaim the group’s return to government and to portray the outfit as a new, modernised force. 

During an astonishing 40-minute appearance, they said there would no revenge attacks, their opponents will be ‘pardoned’ and women will be allowed to work and study as a ‘very important part of society’.

But on the streets of Kabul, the reality of life under Taliban rule was setting in, with ‘terrified’ women reportedly confined to their homes, and militants going door to door hunting for ex-government workers.

US troops, backed by British SAS and Royal Marines special forces, are guarding the 7.8-mile perimeter with snipers on rooftops, as well as machine gunners and armored cars on the runway. Meanwhile, truck-loads of Taliban fighters are outside the airport and manning the gates into the airport armed with AK-47s and rocket launchers.

US troops, backed by British SAS and Royal Marines special forces, are guarding the 7.8-mile perimeter with snipers on rooftops, as well as machine gunners and armored cars on the runway. Meanwhile, truck-loads of Taliban fighters are outside the airport and manning the gates into the airport armed with AK-47s and rocket launchers.

This year alone, the Taliban have murdered seven Coalition Forces translators, with many more wounded. The father of a US translator was also shot dead yesterday according to his family.

Around 1,700 so-called locally employed staff who worked with British forces and their family members have now been approved to come to the UK. A further 200 are having their claims assessed.

But while many are at Kabul airport waiting for a flight out, many more are in hiding in the city or elsewhere in the country, too terrified to brave the streets. As the Taliban tighten their grip, they face an uncertain future.

Last night, an interpreter called Ahmed shared his harrowing story. He said: ‘My wife and I were hiding in the basement of a storeroom, but the man who gave us shelter got scared when the Taliban were nearby and asked us to leave.

‘We are about half a mile from the airport. Now we have found somewhere else, a private place. I have to speak quietly because the Taliban checkpoint is nearby. Other interpreters are hiding nearby, they have children with them, so it is worse for them.

‘The Taliban have positioned their gunmen at the airport and are demanding to see paperwork and visas. Apparently they let you through if your papers are valid but I do not trust them. A mistake now could cost us our lives.’

Remarkably, in spite of the presence of 7,000 elite US troops and 900 British Special Forces and Paratroopers at Hamid Karzai International Airport, the Taliban are calling the shots.

Admiral Key said the Taliban could withdraw their consent at any time. He added: ‘We have to be pragmatic and honest. The Taliban are controlling what and how much we can achieve. We do not know how long we are going to have to do this and we may find the security situation makes it untenable for us to continue to evacuate people.

‘The Taliban are providing the security tapestry around Kabul now – they are the providers of security, not us. At the moment we have their consent. They are happy so long as we are going about our business [of withdrawing].’

The revelation that the Taliban are already dictating terms last night caused further anxiety among those waiting for flights to the UK. Only one mercy mission left Kabul yesterday – an RAF Voyager aircraft carrying 250 passengers which was due to touch down at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire last night.

It is not known how many of those on board were eligible Afghans and how many were UK passport-holders.

Last night, former translator Farid, 33, described the ‘nightmare’ being experienced by those stranded in Kabul. He said: ‘It is terrifying, they are on every street. This is their last chance to get us. Taliban fighters are coming to Kabul from Helmand province.

‘If they recognise us they will not be waving us through their checkpoints. They are going from house to house asking if people know any government workers and people who worked for Western forces.’

Mr Johnson suggested last night there could be a way for the Taliban to win recognition from the international community.

A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘He said any legitimacy of any future Taliban government will be subject to them upholding internationally agreed standards on human rights and inclusivity.’

Western nationals trying to flee Kabul have described being crushed and groped during a stampede of Afghans held at Taliban checkpoints outside the airstrip providing evacuation flights as Afghanistan is taken over by the Islamist terror group.

A young female student has told MailOnline how she feared she would be crushed to death at Kabul Airport today as thousands of people desperate to board a flight were pushed by police out of the area, causing a stampede.

While some order was restored inside the airport following yesterday’s scenes of pandemonium on the runway, Aisha Ahmad said chaos still reigned outside.

‘People had heard that the Americans were letting people onto the aircraft to get them out of the country,’ she said.

‘I didn’t believe it at first, but then I went to the airport and saw that people had been allowed onto the tarmac without any checks, so I thought maybe it was true.

‘There were thousands of people inside the airport,’ said Aisha, 22, ‘Then at one point we were all pushed back by the Taliban police to get us out of the airport and women and children were trampled under people’s feet.

‘I couldn’t breathe in the crush and I really thought I was going to die. My feet are all swollen and covered in bruises. We thought there was a flight going to Germany which we might get on, but in the end they only took German nationals on board.’

‘From what I can see in the media, the situation inside the perimeter has calmed down a bit, but that has just transferred the problem outside onto the streets. People are so desperate.’

Aisha, who studies at Kabul University, said she was desperate to leave her country after receiving ‘serious threats’ because of posts on her Twitter feed.

She changed her profile photo to one of former law student Breshna Musazai, who was shot twice by the Taliban in 2016 but survived and more recently worked with an NGO to help give more girls the chance to study.

She said that Kabul was like a ‘ghost town’ since the Taliban had arrived and most shops were closed as traders worried about the worsening security situation and the possibility of looters.

‘People are very conflicted about the future and what kind of Taliban we are facing now. Some think they’ve changed, and others are not so sure. I personally believe they will be softer for a few months, and then after that they will be the same Taliban of old.

‘We’re also uncertain about how women will be treated. In some provinces they’ve told women not to come to work, but we don’t know if that’s temporary. Whether they will start punishing men for shaving their beard and women for not wearing the hijab, no-one really knows.

‘I have lost all hope and I don’t think it will be an easy path for Afghan women. My mother used to tell me stories about what the Taliban did and now I fear it will all come true like a bad dream.’

‘We will honour women’s rights (within Islamic law)’: Taliban spokesman holds first news conference in Kabul and promises they won’t persecute women or take revenge 

Hero’s welcome for Baradar the Butcher: Taliban co-founder arrives in Afghanistan after 20-year exile 

The Taliban have posted a triumphalist video seemingly showing one of its cofounders arriving to a hero’s welcome in Kandahar and locals cheering on his motorcade.  

The group says the footage shows Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar returning to cheering crowds in Afghanistan on Tuesday following 20 years of exile amid the Western effort to eliminate the Taliban threat. 

On Sunday his forces had taken Kabul, and Baradar, head of the Taliban’s political office, is now tipped to become the country’s next leader, following the collapse of the previous US-backed regime.  

The 53-year-old had been deputy leader under ex-chief Mullah Mohammed Omar, whose support for Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden led to the invasion of Afghanistan following the September 11 terror attacks. 

Around a dozen people joined Baradar on the flight and were noisily welcomed on the runway

Around a dozen people joined Baradar on the flight and were noisily welcomed on the runway 

Baradar arrived in Kandahar Province on Tuesday, landing in the insurgent group’s former capital just days after they took control of the country. 

Taliban spokesman Dr M Naeem uploaded footage of his flight landing and of a motorcade of 4x4s bearing the white flag of the organisation. 

He wrote: ‘This afternoon, a high-level delegation from the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan headed by Mullah Baradar Akhund left Qatar and arrived in our beloved country this afternoon and landed at Kandahar Airport.’

Baradar (pictured) set up an Islamic school in Kandahar with his former commander Mohammed Omar, and the two mullahs helped to found the Taliban movement

Baradar (pictured) set up an Islamic school in Kandahar with his former commander Mohammed Omar, and the two mullahs helped to found the Taliban movement

Commentators have pointed out similarities between Baradar’s return and that of Ayatollah Khomeini to Iran in 1979, following 14 years of exile in Paris as an outlawed cleric.  

Baradar, who was born in Uruzgan province in 1968, was raised in Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban movement, and went on to fight with the mujahedeen against the Soviets in the 1980s.

Afterwards, as the country was gripped by a civil war between rival warlords and Baradar set up an Islamic school in Kandahar with his former commander Mohammed Omar, and the two mullahs helped to found the Taliban movement, an ideology which embraced hardline orthodoxy and strived for the creation of an Islamic Emirate. 

The Taliban seized power in 1996 after conquering provincial capitals before marching on Kabul, just as they have in recent months, and Baradar went on to perform a number of different roles during the group’s five-year reign. 

He was the deputy defence minister when the US invaded in 2001, and though he went into hiding, he remained active in the Taliban’s leadership in exile.

Baradar had been freed from jail in Pakistan three years ago at the request of the U.S. government. Just nine months ago, he posed for pictures with Donald Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to sign a peace deal in Doha which now lies in tatters.

In 2010, the CIA tracked him down to the Pakistani city of Karachi and in February of that year the Pakistani intelligence service (ISI) arrested him. But in 2018, he was released at the request of the Trump administration as part of their ongoing negotiations with the Taliban in Qatar, on the understanding that he could help broker peace. 

In February 2020, Baradar signed the Doha Agreement in which the U.S. pledged to leave Afghanistan on the basis that the Taliban would enter into a power-sharing arrangement with President Ashraf Ghani’s government in Kabul.

He was pictured in September with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who ‘urged the Taliban to seize this opportunity to forge a political settlement and reach a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire,’ the US said in a statement.

Pompeo ‘welcomed Afghan leadership and ownership of the effort to end 40 years of war and ensure that Afghanistan is not a threat to the United States or its allies.’

The Doha deal was heralded as a momentous peace declaration but has been proved to be nothing but a ploy by the Taliban.

 

‘We will honour women’s rights (within Islamic law)’: Taliban spokesman holds first news conference in Kabul and promises they won’t persecute women or take revenge

The Taliban claimed that Afghan women will not be persecuted under their Islamic rule during their first press conference since their sweeping conquest of Kabul this week, as the man tipped to be Afghanistan’s next leader arrived in the country after a 20-year exile.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman, claimed ‘there is a huge difference between us and the Taliban of 20 years ago’, when female Afghans were beaten in the street or publicly executed, denied work, healthcare and an education, and barred from leaving home without a male chaperone. 

During their press conference in the capital city, the Taliban insisted girls will receive an education and women will be allowed to study at university – both of which were forbidden under Taliban rule in Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001 before the US-led invasion. 

The terror group also claimed they want women to be part of the new government after female Afghans staged a protest outside a local Taliban HQ in Khair Khana district, a suburb of north-west Kabul, while chanting ‘honour and lives are safe’ and ‘join voices with us’. 

Pictured: Zabihullah Mujahid, chief spokesman for the Taliban, speaks during a press conference in Kabul on Tuesday, August 17, 2021. For years, Mujahid had been a shadowy figure issuing statements on behalf of the militants

Pictured: Zabihullah Mujahid, chief spokesman for the Taliban, speaks during a press conference in Kabul on Tuesday, August 17, 2021. For years, Mujahid had been a shadowy figure issuing statements on behalf of the militants

The Taliban’s war on female Afghans: Islamic group’s brutal oppression of women and girls during 1990s tyranny

A woman wearing a blue-coloured burqa walks next to the construction site of a building in Kabul on June 21, 2021

A woman wearing a blue-coloured burqa walks next to the construction site of a building in Kabul on June 21, 2021 

Under the hardline version of Sharia – Islamic law – that the Taliban imposed the last time they controlled the capital, women and girls were mostly denied education or employment. 

Burqas – full body and face coverings – became mandatory in public, women could not leave home without a male companion, and public floggings and executions, including stoning for adultery, were carried out in city squares and stadiums.

Under threat of execution, girls were banned from mainstream education after the age of eight – forcing those who wanted to learn to do so in secret schools. 

From the age of eight, girls were not allowed to be in direct contact with males other than a close ‘blood relative’, husband, or in-law.

Punishments were often carried out publicly, either as formal spectacles held in sports stadiums or town squares or spontaneous street beatings. Many punishments were meted out by individual militias without the sanction of Taliban authorities. 

In October 1996, for instance, a woman had the tip of her thumb cut off for wearing nail varnish – while in 1999, a mother-of-seven was executed in front of 30,000 spectators in Kabul’s Ghazi Sport stadium for murdering her husband. She had been jailed for three years and tortured prior to the execution, but had refused to plead her innocence in a bid to protect her daughter.

 Even after the Taliban’s ousting in 2001, women often remained marginalised, especially in rural areas.

The United Nations chief called for an immediate end to violence in Afghanistan and urging the international community to unite to ensure that the human rights of all people are respected.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to the Security Council at an emergency meeting on Monday ‘and the international community as a whole to stand together, work together and act together.’

He said he is ‘particularly concerned by accounts of mounting human rights violations against the women and girls of Afghanistan who fear a return to the darkest days’ in the 1990s when the Taliban ruled and barred girls for getting an education and imposed draconian measures on women.

Mr Guterres said ‘the world is following events in Afghanistan with a heavy heart and deep disquiet about what lies ahead’ and with the country’s future and the hopes and dreams of a generation of young Afghans in the balance, the coming days ‘will be pivotal.’

At this ‘grave hour,’ the secretary-general urged all parties, especially the Taliban, ‘to exercise utmost restraint to protect lives and to ensure that humanitarian needs can be met.’

Mr Guterres said the UN continues to have staff and offices in areas now under Taliban control, and which so far have been respected. ‘Above all, we will stay and deliver in support of the Afghan people in their hour of need.’

‘We cannot and must not abandon the people of Afghanistan,’ he said.

However, women and girls remain the most at risk under the new regime, with gangs in conquered areas allegedly hunting children as young as 12 and unmarried or widowed women they regard as spoils of war – ‘qhanimat’ – being forced into marriage or sex slavery. 

The Taliban has also said women will have to wear hijabs but not burkas. During the press conference on Tuesday, Mujahid did not detail what restrictions would be imposed on women, although he did say it would be a government with ‘strong Islamic values’.  

Mujahid claimed: ‘We are committed to the rights of women under the system of Sharia. They are going to be working shoulder to shoulder with us. We would like to assure the international community that there will be no discrimination.’

The Taliban denied it was enforcing sex slavery, and claims that such actions are against Islam. During the 1990s, the regime established religious police for the suppression of ‘vice’, and courts handed out extreme punishments including stoning to death women accused of adultery.   

Just minutes before the hour-long press conference, it was confirmed that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s deputy leader and co-founder, had arrived back in Kandahar from Qatar, with what was described as a high-level delegation.

‘We are going to decide what kind of laws will be presented to the nation. This will be the responsibility of the government with the participation of all people,’ Mujahid claimed.

Much of the rest of Mujahid’s press conference was also aimed at quashing fears about reprisal attacks against those who supported the Western-backed government, saying the new government did not want internal or external enemies.

Earlier, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Sky News ‘thousands’ of schools would continue to educate girls as the group announced a ‘general amnesty’ for those who previously worked in the Afghan government, saying ‘their properties will be saved and their honour and their lives are safe.’

A group of women staged a demonstration demanding the right to work and study in Kabul on Tuesday morning. 

Chanting the slogan: ‘join voices with us’ the small group of women approached a local Taliban HQ in Khair Khana district, a suburb of north-west Kabul.

But rather than arresting or beating the protestors, the senior Taliban commander present tried to reassure them by telling them: ‘Don’t worry, your rights will be respected. You will be allowed to work and study.’   

One observer who saw the women’s protest said: ‘The Taliban are on their best behaviour at the moment. They are keen to take control of the levers of government in Kabul with the least possible bloodshed and in the quickest time.

‘They know that to do that they need to win the hearts and minds of the people, or at least allay their fears. 

‘We’ve all heard orders from their high command stating that women will be allowed to work and girls to go to school, but that’s very different from the way the Taliban have behaved in the past. The proof will be whether they continue to maintain that position over the next few weeks and months, or revert to their old ways.’

Meanwhile, MailOnline received a heartfelt video plea from a young Afghan student outlining her fears for the days ahead.

Kabul University student Rukhsar, 22, said; ‘I am disheartened by the recent situation and advance of the Taliban because I have been sitting at home and worrying about my future.

‘I have dreamed of doing a lot of things in my life but now everything has been stopped suddenly. ‘Everything has changed in a flash of light.’  

She added: ‘I don’t know about my future now and the international community have turned their faces away from us. This is our right to go to university and to do work in the offices.’

Mujahid also confirmed the Taliban’s intention to form a government, and made assurances that its shape will be announced once it has been completed.

‘Afghanistan will have a strong Islamic government,’ he said. ‘What the name and makeup will be, let’s leave that to political leaders. I can assure you it will have strong Islamic values.’

When asked by a reporter whether the Taliban would renounce terrorist group Al-Qaeda, Mujahid answered evasively, saying the group would not permit foreign fighters to use Afghanistan ‘against anybody’.

‘I would like to assure the international community that nobody will be harmed,’ Mujahid said from the former government’s media information centre in Kabul, speaking into a row of microphones.

‘We do not want to have any problems with the international community,’ he added, before defending the Taliban’s right to ‘act according to our religious principles.’

‘Other countries have different approaches, rules and regulations… the Afghans have the right to have their own rules and regulations in accordance with our values.’

The spokesman suggested that the Taliban intended to put the last 20 years behind them, claiming that the group is ‘not going to revenge anybody, we do not have grudges against anybody’. 

‘We want to make sure Afghanistan is not the battlefield of conflict anymore. We want to grant amnesty to those who have fought against us,’ he said.

He described the Taliban’s ’20 year struggle for freedom, emancipating the country form occupation,’ and said of the recent incursion: ‘This was our right, we have achieved our right, I would like to thank God for bringing us to this stage.’

There have also been concerns that the Taliban would restrict media and journalists within the country. Mujahid also attempted to allay those fears in Tuesdays conference.

‘I would like to assure the media that we are committed to the media within our cultural frameworks’, Mujahid said. ‘Private media can continue to be free and independent.

‘Islam is very important in our country… Therefore Islamic values should be taken into account when it comes to the media, to developing your programmes.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid answers press members questions as he holds a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid answers press members questions as he holds a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan

The same group of women started protesting this morning, demanding the extremist group does not 'eliminate' women from society but were not approached by Taliban fighters until the afternoon

The same group of women started protesting this morning, demanding the extremist group does not ‘eliminate’ women from society but were not approached by Taliban fighters until the afternoon

‘Impartiality of the media is very important, they can critique our work so that we can improve. But the media should not work against us’, he added. 

Mujahid put particular emphasis on people being safe under the new Taliban regime, and that thing would be different from over two decades ago.

‘In your homes, nobody is going to harm you, nobody is going to be interrogated or chased, those who have knocked on doors to inspect houses are abusers, they are going to be pursued and investigated,’ he said. 

‘Thousands of soldiers who fought us for 20 years, after the end of occupation, they have been pardoned. Those who are at the airport waiting, when they come back to their homes, they will be safe… we want to give them confidence.’

The Taliban’s spokesman said that the group has pardoned everybody for the stability and peace of Afghanistan,’ and said any harm caused in the recent incursion was ‘one of the side effects of conflict’.

‘A huge occupying force was defeated, it was impossible for us to emancipate the country, without injuries, without harms, without hurts.

‘Animosities have come to an end, we want to live peacefully, we don’t want any internal enemies or external enemies.’

Mujahid said that the country was at a ‘historic stage’, with consultation over the creation of the new ‘inclusive’ government to be completed soon. He also said that while there had been some riots involving people who ‘wanted to abuse the situation,’ he assured Kabul’s residents they would be protected.

He also signalled the Taliban might invite countries to return to their embassies after frantic efforts were made in the last few days by many western countries to embassy evacuate staff from the city.

‘The security of embassies is crucially important to us. The areas where there are embassies will have complete security,’ he said.

Despite the obvious PR campaign, terrified families in Kabul today handed red and white roses to the Taliban fighters who have taken their city – as they desperately tried to build bridges with them.

Footage of the men and boys approaching the armed members showed them handing the symbolic coloured flowers.

In Afghani culture red roses symbolise friendship, while the white blooms mean forgiveness.

Ironically the flowers were nearly wiped out during the last Taliban regime when gardens were left neglected.

The handing of the roses was a last gamble of families in Kabul who are anxiously waiting to see how rule under the Islamists will look.

With little else to urge compassion from them, mothers and fathers are hoping the gesture will encourage mercy.

The peaceful act is in stark contrast to the actions of Taliban fighters marauding the capital city.

They have been targeting pro-West men and women and knocking on doors to take them away.



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