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Taliban respond to rare protest with violent crackdown

The Taliban violently dispersed dozens of protesters in the city of Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing at least one person after the demonstrators removed the Taliban flag and replaced it with the national flag, the AP reports.

Why it matters: The violence stands in stark contrast to the more benevolent image the Taliban have sought to cast since taking power, claiming they'd grant "amnesty" to supporters of the Afghan government and honor women's rights within their "cultural frameworks."

  • It also renews fears that the group will return to the brutal grip it ruled with in the 1990s, when the women's and other human rights were severely restricted.

The big picture: Taliban fighters in Jalalabad fired into the crowd and beat demonstrators with batons, per AP.

  • Hundreds of protesters also demonstrated in the city of Khost and were violently attacked by the Taliban, the New York Times reports.
  • Protesters also took to the streets in Asadabad, per the Wall Street Journal.

Despite assuring the U.S. they would allow safe passage of civilians to the international airport in Kabul, the Taliban have instituted checkpoints outside its perimeter and have been violently pushing back those seeking entry, per the Journal.

  • The Taliban unleashed rounds of gunfire into the air and beat families seeking entry, the Journal reports.
  • The chaos and violence succeeded in thinning out the crowds of Afghans trying to enter the airport, CNN reports.

What they're saying: “The situation is very bad at the gate,” Lida Ahmadi, who applied for a special immigrant visa, told the Journal. “I slept on the road last night. Now, after two nights and two days at the gate, we’ve finally got the chance to come in."

  • “The crowd pushed us from the back and she fell down. Her knee was badly hurt by a rock, and she can’t really walk now,” Esrar Ahmad, a former interpreter for U.S. troops who entered the airport Wednesday, told the Journal about how his wife was injured in the crowd at the airport gate.

Go deeper: Evacuating Afghanistan

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