Taliban gunmen reportedly opened fire Thursday on citizens in Afghanistan as they waved their national flag to celebrate the country’s 1919 independence from the then-British Empire.
Reuters reported a number of people were confirmed killed during a demonstration in the city of Asadabad in eastern Afghanistan.
The outlet reported it could not confirm whether those people were shot to death or trampled. It appeared that flag-waving promoted aggression from the Taliban.
“Hundreds of people came out on the streets,” a witness named Mohammed Salim said. “At first I was scared and didn’t want to go but when I saw one of my neighbours joined in, I took out the flag I have at home.”
“Several people were killed and injured in the stampede and firing by the Taliban.”
Similar flag demonstrations occurred elsewhere in the country, including in Kabul, where rumors of Taliban violence were also reported.
Images purporting to show such demonstrations went viral online Thursday:
Around 200 Afghans rally and march towards Pashtunistan Square in Kabul with the Republic’s national flags and banners, chanting:
“Death to Pakistan”
“God Bless Afghanistan.”
“Long Live the National Flag of Afghanistan”
They tried raising the flag at the square. pic.twitter.com/TJE6IL32gT
— Marcus Yam 文火 (@yamphoto) August 19, 2021
Powerful. Afghans celebrate 102nd Independence Day of Afghanistan waving the national flag in Kabul today. ?? pic.twitter.com/zIMJ0nZOFM
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) August 19, 2021
Flag protests in Afg have taken experts by surprise. Happening in a country whose govt/army just withered away. I think the flag is now the only connection this generation of Afghans have with a country they grew up in. There’s a powerful statement inherent in these protests. pic.twitter.com/cmqtA1TxxL
— Nadeem Farooq Paracha (@NadeemfParacha) August 19, 2021
Afghan citizens still holding their flag and protesting! World may have given up, they haven’t. pic.twitter.com/ZhKDBSke0j
— Madan Gowri (@madan3) August 19, 2021
August 19 is Afghanistan’s Independence Day, videos of Afghans across the country taking down the flags of the Taliban and waving their own flags are surfacing. May God protect them. #AfghanResistance pic.twitter.com/9GquukfB9M
— Munazza Ebtikar (@mebtikar) August 19, 2021
Reuters reported that some Afghans had been spotted tearing down white Taliban banners. One video posted on Twitter showed an act of defiance against the Taliban in broad daylight, reportedly in Kabul.
Afghans erecting national flag in Abdul Haq square in #Kabul, in defiance of Taliban
The militants have replaced the black, red, and green national flag with their own white flags across #Afghanistan
But Afghans are braving threats, possible violence to mark Independence Day pic.twitter.com/xtFKL9ygxh
— Frud Bezhan فرود بيژن (@FrudBezhan) August 19, 2021
Afghan Independence Day is celebrated annually on Aug. 19 to commemorate a treaty that separated the country from British influence in 1919. British forces first occupied the country in the 19th Century to use the region as a buffer zone between Russia and India.
This year’s celebration comes as the Taliban has taken hold of the country following the chaotic exit of the U.S. military ordered by President Joe Biden.
Numerous buildings in Kabul ironically this past weekend saw the Afghan national flag removed by the Taliban. That is the same flag traditionally flown for the Aug. 19 national holiday.
Life for so many urban Afghanis is now foreign with the Taliban in control as the demographically young country is under the thumb of remote Pashtun terrorists for the first time since the U.S. pushed the group mostly to the eastern portion of the country beginning after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Statista reported that in 2019, an estimated 42 percent of Afghanistan’s population was 14 years old or younger, while roughly 55 percent was between the ages of 15 and 64.
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