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Afghans protest Taliban in emerging challenge to their rule

An Afghan waves the national flag in Kabul on August 19, 2021. (WAKIL KOHSAR / AFP)
An Afghan waves the national flag in Kabul on August 19, 2021. (WAKIL KOHSAR / AFP)

Afghan protesters defy the Taliban for a second day, waving their national flag in scattered demonstrations that have been met with renewed violence by the militants who are facing growing challenges to their rule.

A UN official warns of dire food shortages in this nation of 38 million people reliant on imports, and experts say the country is severely short on cash, highlighting that the Taliban face the same problems as the civilian government they dethroned without the level of international aid it enjoyed.

In light of these challenges, the militants have moved quickly to suppress any dissent, despite their promises that they have become more moderate since they last imposed draconian rule on Afghanistan. Many fear the Taliban will succeed in erasing two decades of efforts to expand women’s and human rights and remake the country.

Today, a procession of cars and people near Kabul’s airport carried long black, red and green banners in honor of the Afghan flag — a banner that is becoming a symbol of defiance since the militants have their own flag. At another protest in Nangarhar province, video posted online showed one demonstrator with a gunshot wound bleeding, as onlookers tried to carry him away.

In Khost province, Taliban authorities instituted a 24-hour curfew Thursday after violently breaking up another protest, according to information obtained by journalists monitoring from abroad. The militants did not immediately acknowledge the demonstration or the curfew.

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