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Scenes From Afghanistan: Here’s What Happened Today

Scenes From Afghanistan Heres What Happened Today
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Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

A young man sells Taliban flags at the roundabout outside the vacated U.S. embassy in Kabul, one week after the Taliban seized control of the city and American personnel were evacuated from the compound.

A pastel pink and blue mural displaying smiling girls serves as the backdrop. Dari script written on the wall reads: “I am the future of Afghanistan.”

During an earlier era of Taliban rule, officials barred women from working outside the home or leaving the house without a male guardian, eliminated schooling for girls and publicly flogged those who violated the group’s morality code. Since the U.S. ousted the Taliban roughly two decades ago, women and girls have rejoined society in ways that would have been previously unimaginable.

In the past week, Taliban officials have tried to reassure women that things will be different this time around. But it is far from clear whether that will be the case, and the uncertainty threatens the gains of women across Afghanistan.

Text by Matt Stevens.

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“I need a female medic now! Sit down.” “You need to calm down. Calm down.” [baby crying] “Please call someone.” [baby crying] [gunshots]

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CreditCredit…Sky News Exclusive via Associated Press

Videos from Kabul airport on Saturday showed scores of injuries and adults passed out as Afghans clamored to be evacuated from Afghanistan.

The video clips, which are believed to have been recorded sometime Saturday morning, suggest that almost a week after the Taliban seized control of Kabul, conditions near the airport are not improving and may be worsening.

The videos showed a soldier urging a man sprawled out on the ground to “calm down” as she tried to give the man liquid to drink.

The recordings also show people pouring water onto the head of a screaming child and soldiers using a hose to cool people at the gate. Soldiers are seen hoisting people over a barrier. A Sky News journalist at the scene reported that near the front of the crowd, people were being “crushed.”

The grim scenes are the latest to emerge in a week that has been filled with desperate moments. On Monday, a crowd of Afghans surged onto the tarmac at the airport and tried to climb onto aircrafts as they departed. Some were killed.

And in another jarring scene, a baby was passed over a concrete wall topped with razor wire to a Marine. The baby was eventually reunited with his family.

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Following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, dozens of countries have been working to evacuate their citizens and vulnerable Afghans, including those who have worked for the U.S. military or embassy.CreditCredit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

Some of the thousands of people who have fled Afghanistan in recent days after its takeover by the Taliban have begun arriving in countries across the world that have pledged to help the massive evacuation effort. In some cases, countries are serving as safe if temporary transit stops. In other cases, they are permanent resettlement locations for refugees.

Videos from The Associated Press and Reuters show an airplane touching down in the dark of night at the Royal Air Force base in Brize Norton, England, and passengers getting off the plane. At a U.S. military base in Ramstein, Germany, videos showed riders getting off a bus late Friday and having their temperatures taken as they exited. And in Perth, Australia, the same evening, families and their children could be seen lugging their belongings wearily into a hotel after a long journey.

Over the past several days, the evacuation of foreigners and vulnerable Afghans from Kabul has evolved into a global effort. Top American officials have said that 12 countries have been or will be acting as brief transit stops for U.S. military flights out of Afghanistan and 13 countries have pledged to help resettle Afghans.

They have said that since the airlift operation began last Sunday out of Kabul, 17,000 people have been evacuated, including 2,500 Americans.

Text by Matt Stevens.

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Afghans headed to shops and markets on Saturday morning nearly a week after the Taliban took control of the capital.

Just a short distance from the airport where thousands of people have descended in desperate attempts to flee the country, street vendors laid out sliced melon that sweated under the warm sun. Shoppers packed into busy thoroughfares, huddled under umbrellas and inspected the merchandise.

Afghanistan’s economy faces significant challenges as the Taliban sweeps into power. The country has leaned for two decades on foreign aid that now accounts for nearly half its legal economy. Afghans are also grappling with food insecurity, and a drought threatens to exacerbate the food supply issues.

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The Afghan national cricket team at a training session in Kabul on Saturday. The team was preparing for a match in Sri Lanka against Pakistan next month.
Credit…Hoshang Hashimi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Even as scenes of chaos and desperation have unfolded outside Kabul’s airport, just seven kilometers away, players on the Afghan national cricket team are continuing to train at their home stadium.

As recently as Wednesday, the country’s cricket board posted pictures on Facebook of players stretching, and photos taken on Saturday showed bowlers hurling balls at waiting batsmen.

In the days since the Taliban took over Kabul, different pockets of the city have at times felt worlds apart. Near the airport, thousands of Afghans and Americans have been clamoring amid sometimes violent chaos to leave the country. But elsewhere, there are signs of the hum of daily life.

The Afghan national team was training for a three-match series against Pakistan that is scheduled to take place in Sri Lanka next month.

Credit…Hoshang Hashimi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Perhaps nowhere is the contrast more stark than on the cricket pitch, where Hamid Shinwari, the chief executive of the Afghanistan Cricket Board, told Agence France-Presse that “the atmosphere in the camp was very spirited.” He told the news agency that officials were in touch with the authorities about getting the team to Sri Lanka after normal flight operations resume.

Officials with the Afghanistan Cricket Board did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment on Saturday.

Text by Matt Stevens.

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Night falls in Kabul, ending a week that saw the Taliban sweep into Kabul, re-establishing their rule nearly 20 years to the day after the first shots were fired of the American-led invasion that drove them from power.

What happens next is anybody’s guess: Have the Taliban tempered the brutality that defined so much about their last turn in power, or will they unleash a bloody campaign of retribution against anyone associated with the old regime? When they promise to respect women’s rights within the strictures of Islamic law, what does that mean?

For now, the vast majority of Afghans wait. They have no money to leave, and nowhere to go even if they did. Those with the means are doing anything they can to flee, braving Taliban checkpoints to reach the last redoubt of American-backed rule in Afghanistan, Kabul’s international airport. Some are organizing a resistance force in the mountains north of Kabul. Others are on the run, hiding as the Taliban hunt for them.

Photos by The New York Times. Text by Matthew Rosenberg.

Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times
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Decades of war have left millions of Afghans displaced, and the latest burst of fighting this summer has only further swelled their numbers. Many have taken refuge in Kabul, filling parks and other public spaces with a new generation of men, women and children who have seen firsthand how war rolls through towns, villages and cities, uprooting those in its path.

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The few square miles that encompass Kabul’s airport and its environs had by Friday settled into a tale of two cities: At the airport, American-led forces are firmly in control and trying to keep evacuations moving, packing whoever they can onto flights out. On the streets, the Taliban reign, wielding clubs and whips and, at times, opening fire to keep control as thousands of people swarm the airport, desperate to get out.



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Photos by The New York Times and Afp – Getty Images. Videos by The Associated Press and Reuters. Text by Matthew Rosenberg.

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Scenes that would have been unthinkable only a week ago continued unfolding on Friday across Kabul nearly as quickly as the Taliban swept through Afghanistan.

Khalil Haqqani, a leader of one of the most powerful and violent Taliban factions, appeared at Friday prayers, the high point in the Islamic week. Mr. Haqqani, 48, is on both the U.S. and United Nations terrorist lists. Along with several members of the family, he is now playing a prominent role in the new Taliban regime.

Backed by Pakistan’s intelligence service, the Haqqani network, as his family’s faction is known, has long been one of the Taliban’s most effective and violent branches, responsible for kidnapping Americans, launching complex suicide attacks and conducting targeted assassinations. To a great many Afghans and foreigners who have followed the war, Mr. Haqqani’s emergence in the capital was a stark reminder of who now runs Afghanistan. Driving home that point, Mr. Haqqani showed up carrying an American-made M4 rifle and was accompanied by a security detail dressed in high-end American gear that had been supplied to Afghan commandos.

Photos by Jim Huylebroek and Victor J. Blue for The New York Times. Text by Matthew Rosenberg.

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Amid the clatter of gunshots, panicked Afghans and foreigners continued to swarm Kabul’s international airport Thursday, desperately trying to get aboard evacuation flights to safety. The Taliban beat and harassed people struggling to reach the military airport, where 7,000 Americans and other evacuees have been flown out of Afghanistan since Aug. 14, the Pentagon said. There was continued chaos as gunmen manhandled people and fired into the air.




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The Pentagon said Thursday that 5,200 U.S. troops were on the ground and that multiple airport gates were now open. The State Department said 6,000 people had been processed inside the facility and were awaiting flights.




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KABUL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

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KABUL INTERNATIONAL

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Photographs by The New York Times. Video by Mirwais Khan Amiri for Reuters and The Associated Press. Text by David Zucchino.

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Shiite Muslims observed Ashura with ritual bloodletting in Kabul on Thursday.
Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

On Thursday, Afghanistan’s Hazara minority, most of whom are Shiite Muslims, observed Ashura, in which Shiites commemorate the death of Imam Hussain, grandson of the prophet Muhammad.

Ashura events in Kabul have been attacked by suicide bombers several times in recent years, with some of the bombings claimed by the Islamic State, which considers Hazaras heretics. Hazaras have been attacked and persecuted in Afghanistan for generations.

The Taliban sent representatives to events, and there were no immediate reports of violence, Agence France-Presse reported.

In addition to Afghanistan’s annual Independence Day holiday, Ashura on Thursday was Afghanistan’s first major public observance since the Taliban seized power. It was regarded as a test of Taliban promises to protect civilians and refrain from revenge killings. The Taliban, most of whom are Sunni Muslims, have persecuted and massacred Hazaras in the past.

Photographs by The New York Times. Text by David Zucchino.

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In Afghanistan, raising the national flag has become an act of resistance. We filmed a woman risking her safety to protest the Taliban.CreditCredit…Jordan Bryon for The New York Times

In a remarkable display of defiance, Afghans took to the streets Thursday for a second day to protest the Taliban takeover of the country, flying Afghanistan’s national flag during the country’s annual Independence Day celebrations.

Taliban gunmen violently broke up a raucous protest by about 200 demonstrators near the presidential palace in Kabul, but protests also broke out in other cities. Several protesters waving national flags were reported killed in the eastern city of Asadabad when Taliban gunmen opened fire and caused a stampede, Reuters reported.

With the Taliban takeover, Independence Day has taken on a renewed significance, seized on by protesters as a symbol of their defiance against Taliban rule.

“Long live Afghanistan,” protesters can be heard shouting.

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CreditCredit…Jordan Bryon for The New York Times

Photographs by The New York Times. Video by Jordan Bryon for The New York Times. Text by David Zucchino.

Catch Up: Earlier This Week

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As Taliban fighters poured into the undefended capital on Sunday, scenes of panic and chaos unfolded in Kabul. The American-backed government collapsed as ministers abandoned their offices and as soldiers and police officers peeled off their uniforms to blend in with civilians.

President Ashraf Ghani fled the country with a small team of advisers, leaving Afghans who had served the government — or the 20-year American military and diplomatic effort — to fend for themselves. The U.S. mission to Afghanistan came to a sudden and shocking end, two decades after American forces toppled the Taliban-led government following the Sept. 11 attacks.

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CreditCredit…Al Jazeera Exclusive

Taliban commanders and fighters barged into the vacated presidential palace, posing for photographers and delivering an impromptu news conference. One commander sat at Mr. Ghani’s ornate wooden desk. The head of the Presidential Protection Service, which had guarded the palace for most of the last two decades, shook hands with a Taliban commander and announced the handover of power.

Meanwhile, thousands of terrified Afghans swarmed the international airport, desperate to board a flight — any flight — out of the country. Some young men clung to the underside of an American military transport plane as it taxied down the runway, and others ran alongside and in front of the departing flight.

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One day after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan, thousands of people who were desperate to flee the country rushed to the airport in Kabul.CreditCredit…Wakil Kohsar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Many Afghan men broke into tears as they begged airport officials to put their families aboard planes, even as most civilian flights were canceled in favor of military evacuations.

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CreditCredit…Associated Press

Other Afghans tried to fight their way to the military side of the airport, past Taliban gunmen who fired into the air and beat people with rifle butts, clubs and whips.

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Gunfire in the Streets: Protests Met by Force in Afghanistan

The Taliban faced off against protestors in the northeastern city of Jalalabad. Taliban soldiers fired shots into the crowd and beat protesters and journalists.

[gunfire] [gunfire]

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The Taliban faced off against protestors in the northeastern city of Jalalabad. Taliban soldiers fired shots into the crowd and beat protesters and journalists.CreditCredit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

On Wednesday, protests against the Taliban’s newly declared Islamic Emirate broke out in the eastern city of Jalalabad, as well as in the southeastern city of Khost. In Jalalabad, Taliban fighters shot at protesters, killing at least two, according to Afghan media reports. Some protesters raised Afghanistan government flags, which had been ripped down by the Taliban and were replaced with the white and black Taliban flag.

Photographs by The New York Times. Text by David Zucchino.



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