Taliban militants opened fire on Afghan protesters criticizing the terrorist organization in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, killing at least three and injuring more than a dozen, Reuters reported Wednesday.
Reuters attributed the report to two witnesses and a Taliban source. The Taliban essentially enjoys free reign over all of Afghanistan outside the Kabul airport, where more than 4,000 U.S. troops remain stationed to assist evacuation. The militants reportedly opened fire when a group of Afghans attempted to raise the Afghan national flag in a town square. (RELATED: FLASHBACK: Taliban Laughs When Reporter Asks If They Would Support Democratically Elected Women)
“There were some troublemakers who wanted to create issues for us,” a Taliban militant present in Jalalabad at the time of the incident told Reuters. “These people are exploiting our relaxed policies.”
The Taliban advanced quickly against Afghan government forces throughout the week, taking the capital city of Kabul and entering the presidential palace in a matter of days. Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has fled the country, and Taliban leaders have declared a new government, the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.”
Taliban leaders have claimed their regime will be more “inclusive” than in the past, vowing to respect the rights of women but only within the limits of Islamic law. At least one woman has reportedly been killed for leaving her home without wearing a burqa.
President Joe Biden and other administration officials have lamented the human rights abuses that will almost certainly ramp up in Afghanistan following the U.S. withdrawal. Biden says he stands “squarely” behind his decision to pull out.
“Truly, deeply, my heart goes out to Afghan women and girls in the country today, under the Taliban. We’ve seen what they’ve done before and that’s a very hard thing for any of us to face,” National security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Tuesday. “These are the choices a president has to make, and it doesn’t mean because we don’t have forces in that country that we are not going to fight on behalf of women and girls and human rights and human dignity. We are. We do, in many other countries where we don’t have active military participation and we’ll do it in Afghanistan, too.”
U.S. troops remain in control of the airport and have urged U.S. citizens remaining in Kabul to make their way there for evacuation. The military has warned that it cannot guarantee the safety of U.S. citizens making the trek to the airport. Any U.S. citizens outside of Kabul have virtually no hope of evacuation due to Taliban checkpoints at all entrances to the city.
Taliban forces have reportedly beaten many Afghan nationals awaiting their Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) outside the airport.