Taliban fighters patrol the Wazir Akbar Khan district in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan on Wednesday, August 18, 2021.
Rahmat Gül | AP
Reports of violence and repression by Taliban fighters are surfacing across Afghanistan, despite the group’s representatives pledging their leadership to be forgiving and peaceful.
Since Sunday, when the Taliban invaded the Afghan capital, at least twelve people have been killed at and around Kabul airport alone, NATO and Taliban officials said on Thursday, as quoted by Reuters. The deaths could have been caused by gunfire or a mass rush.
According to reports and photos from NBC News and the Los Angeles Times, some adults and at least one child were injured and bleeding in the beating by Taliban fighters. The Taliban deny their members’ involvement in the violence.
“Your three-day-old charm offensive is already breaking in,” wrote Bakhti Nishanov, a Central Asia expert from the non-partisan International Republican Institute, on Twitter on Wednesday.
“I can’t even imagine what they’ll do when the world’s brief attention span moves away from Afghanistan and the initial, if confused, hope for change disappears.”
Anti-Taliban protests broke out in various parts of the country on Wednesday, with groups of Afghans marching through the streets wearing the black, green and red national flag.
The Taliban used gunfire to disperse protesters who killed two people and injured several others, the Wall Street Journal reported, which CNBC was unable to independently verify. The group also blocked passage to Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, despite US government officials’ assurances that the Taliban had agreed to evacuations.
The situation has deteriorated to the point that the US embassy in Kabul has warned US citizens in the country that it cannot guarantee “a safe passage” to the airport. This statement was followed on Wednesday by the Pentagon’s confirmation that it is currently unable to safely escort Americans in Kabul to the airport for evacuation.
History repeats itself?
If history is a guide, the Taliban’s promises of reconciliation don’t last long. A Taliban commander in 1996, when the group first took over the country, was quoted as saying, “The Taliban will not take revenge. We have no personal grudges.”
The group also promised amnesty for any government officials and soldiers who surrendered.
Then-Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar was quoted as saying that the Taliban would guarantee the lives and property of civilians in the country. What followed instead were years of brutal executions, amputations, beatings and repression. The mutilated bodies of former heads of government were hung on lampposts for the public to see.