Amid reports of protests in Afghanistan, the Taliban asked Afghan Imams to promote unity and ask people not to leave the country during Friday’s prayers.
In a message to the Imams, the Taliban said to “encourage our compatriots to work for the development of the country, and not to try to leave the country” and answer “the negative propaganda of the enemy.”
Thursday marked the day Afghanistan celebrates its independence from British rule, which happened in 1919. Al Jazeera reported that anti-Taliban protests spread to more cities, and some demonstrators were carrying the Afghan national flag.
Witnesses told Al Jazeera that at least two people died in the city of Asadabad in the eastern province of Kunar after the Taliban fired shots towards the crowd, although it’s not clear if the people died from gunfire or a stampede. Protests and Taliban gunfire were also reported in Kabul, but no casualties were reported.
Things are still hectic outside the Kabul airport, where crowds of Afghans are trying to flee the country. NATO and Taliban officials told Reuters that at least 12 people have been killed in and around the airport since Sunday. According to Afghanistan’s TOLO News, at least 10 people were killed on Sunday alone. At least two people were shot and killed by US troops, and some were killed in stampedes or by falling from US military aircraft.
Compared to recent months in Afghanistan, while it may be tense, there is a general calm across the country. The Taliban control virtually all of the country, except for a few areas, including the Panjshir province, where a resistance force is starting to grow. The Taliban officially declared the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” on Thursday and is in talks with former Afghan officials on the structures of a new government.