Taliban respond to resistance with violent crackdowns

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The Taliban shot at people protesting the group’s rule in at least three Afghanistan cities Wednesday, and is facing resistance from a group of opposition fighters in the northeast.

Why it matters: The Taliban pledged to be more inclusive than when it ruled in the 1990s and to not retaliate against opponents. But the group fired at demonstrators in the cities of Asadabad, Khost and Jalalabad — where the Taliban killed at least two people who removed its flag and replaced it with the national standard, according to multiple reports.

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  • A Taliban spokesperson told Reuters Wednesday that the new government would not be a democracy, adding: “It is sharia law and that is it.”

Meanwhile, an opposition group with a corps of loyal fighters in the northeastern Panjshir Valley continues to resist the Taliban— the last holdout in Afghanistan.

  • Ousted Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who’s helping lead this resistance in this region and who’s declared himself the country’s “caretake president,” on Thursday praised the protesters who raised the national flag for their courage.

  • The pockets of resistance mark the first challenges to the Taliban’s grip on power since declaring victory after ousting Afghanistan’s democratically elected government on Monday.

The big picture: Despite the Taliban assuring the U.S. the new government would allow safe passage of civilians to the airport in Kabul, it has instituted checkpoints outside its perimeter and have been violently pushing back those seeking entry, according to the Wall Street Journal.

  • The Taliban unleashed rounds of gunfire into the air and beat families seeking entry, the Journal reports.

  • The chaos and violence succeeded in thinning out the crowds of Afghans trying to enter the airport, CNN reports.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include details of the protest in Khost, resistance in the Panjshir valley and Saleh’s praise of the demonstrators.

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