One dead after Taliban militants attack protesters in Afghanistan

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By AP, Euronews
A man holds the flag of Afghanistan during a protest in Jalalabad on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021
A man holds the flag of Afghanistan during a protest in Jalalabad on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021   -   Copyright  Credit: A¨P

At least one person was killed after Taliban militants attacked protesters in eastern Afghanistan who had taken down the group's banner and replaced it with the country's flag.

The drama has sparked fears about whether the insurgents -- who completed a rapid takeover of the country at the weekend -- will govern the nation in the manner they claim.

The Taliban has insisted it will respect human rights unlike during its previously draconian rule.

The attack in Jalalabad on Wednesday comes as many Afghans are hiding at home or trying to flee the country as allegations of abuses by the loosely controlled militant organisation grow.

In an early sign of protest to the Taliban's rule, dozens gathered in Jalalabad and a nearby market town to raise the tricolour national flag, a day before Afghanistan’s Independence Day, which commemorates the 1919 treaty that ended British rule.

They lowered the Taliban flag -- a white banner with an Islamic inscription -- that the militants have raised in the areas they captured.

Video footage later showed the Taliban firing into the air and attacking people with batons to disperse the crowd.

"Things are going to continue to be tested and the onus is on the Taliban to prove to the people that they can stick by their word and they can stand by their word," Ali M Latifi, a Kabul-based journalist told Euronews.

Latifi, referring to the Taliban's press conference on Tuesday, said it would be a way of holding the insurgents to their word.

"Obviously they were on their best behaviour, they were saying what the whole world wanted to hear, but what was very important about it is that now we finally have a name, a face to the name Zabiullah Mujahid.

"And because he said it very publicly in two languages, and then it was also translated in English when it needed to be, it's now officially on the record. Everything that they said has been recorded and documented.

"And so now, if they go back on their word, it's very easy to say, well, on August 17th, you said this, and yet on this day you did X. So, I think it's actually very good because it's a great way to hold them to account point by point."

Watch the full interview with Latifi in the video player, above.