At least two people were killed and eight were injured on Thursday after the Taliban opened fired on Afghans celebrating their independence day in Asadabad city, Al Jazeera reported.
It was, however, not clear if the deaths were due to the Taliban firing or from a stampede, a witness, Mohammed Salim, told Reuters. “Hundreds of people came out on the streets,” 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.”
He added: “Several people were killed and injured in the stampede and firing by the Taliban.”
In a similar incident on Wednesday, the Taliban had shot dead three people protesting against the replacement of Afghanistan’s flag with the hardline group’s banner in Jalalabad. Twelve others were injured.
The Taliban took control of Afghanistan on Sunday, entering the presidential palace in the capital Kabul and ending an insurgent offensive that ripped through the country in 10 days. The group made swift advances and captured key Afghan cities even as foreign troops prepared to withdraw from the country by the end of August.
Following the takeover, residents have taken to the streets in many Afghan cities to protest against the Taliban, according to Reuters.
These incidents of firing came even as the Taliban has sought to present a moderate face to the world. Before it was ousted from Afghanistan in 2001, the Taliban’s rule was repressive, including public executions and extremely strict interpretations of Islamic law. Women’s rights were severely restricted during the Taliban rule between 1996 and 2001.
On Tuesday, the Taliban announced that it will grant rights to women but claimed that it would have to be based on Islamic law. The group also claimed that it would not seek revenge against its enemies.
Videos and images on social media showed protestors, including women, shouting slogans to mark their independence day, which falls on August 19. A crowd shouting “our flag, our identity” could be heard as they waved the Afghanistan flag in Kabul on Thursday, according to Reuters.
In another video, a man could be seen climbing a pole to replace the Taliban’s flag.
Protests were also held in Kunar and Khost provinces, reported AP.
The Taliban are trying to curb down the agitation. In Khost, they imposed a 24-hour curfew on Thursday after breaking up a protest.
Amrullah Saleh, who was the vice president of Afghanistan, and now claims to be the acting president, expressed his support to protestors. “Salute those who carry the national flag and thus stand for dignity of the nation,” he tweeted.