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Afghans defy Taliban rule with protests; State Dept. ramps up evacuation processing

Multiple people were killed and more than a dozen were injured in anti-Taliban protests in the Afghan city of Jalalabad on Aug. 18. (Video: Reuters)
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Afghans waving the national flag staged protests in Kabul and other cities Thursday, challenging Taliban fighters in scattered demonstrations marking the anniversary of independence from British rule.

In the capital, men and women carried the black, red and green flag of the Afghan Republic, chanting, “Our flag, our identity,” according to videos posted online. In Asadabad in Konar province, several people were killed after the Taliban fired on a similar rally, Reuters reported, quoting a witness.

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The protests raised the specter of wider popular opposition to the group, which swept to power across Afghanistan in a stunning offensive this month and is pushing now to consolidate power and assume the reins of government.

Meanwhile, the State Department said it is surging consular officers to Kabul to help with evacuation efforts.

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Here’s what to know

  • Afghanistan’s economy faces calamity in the aftermath of the Taliban’s capture of Kabul, with the United States freezing the country’s financial reserves, residents unable to withdraw their money from bank accounts and billions of dollars of international aid put on hold.
  • A senior Taliban commander has said that Afghanistan will probably be governed by sharia law now that the group is back in power.
  • Since Saturday, 7,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan on flights operated by the U.S. military.
  • The United Nations’ food agency says millions in Afghanistan face severe hunger amid an extreme drought; many fearful residents are staying home from work; and numerous aid agencies have suspended activities because of the security situation.