At least two people have been killed after Taliban opened fire at a crowd celebrating independence day in Asadabad, witnesses told Al Jazeera.
In Jalalabad, Taliban fighters fired at people waving the Afghan flag during independence day celebrations, injuring a man and a teenage boy.
Al Jazeera’s Charlotte Bellis, reporting from Kabul, said: “There were some isolated protests linked to the flag in Kabul as well, with people, including women, walking down the streets past Taliban fighters waving the old flag and saying: ‘Our flag is our identity.’”
Meanwhile, evacuations are continuing from Kabul’s airport.
US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he will keep soldiers in Afghanistan until every American is evacuated, even if that means going beyond his August 31 deadline.
Here are the latest updates:
Russia says Taliban resistance ‘concentrated’ in Panjshir Valley
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says that a Taliban resistance is forming in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley led by vice president Amrullah Saleh and Ahmad Massoud, the son of a famed anti-Taliban fighter.
“The Taliban doesn’t control the whole territory of Afghanistan, there are reports of the situation in the Panjshir Valley where the resistance of Afghanistan’s vice president Mr Saleh and Ahmad Massoud is concentrated,” Lavrov told reporters at a press conference in Moscow.
Afghan steel plants concerned of scrap smuggling
Afghanistan’s steel factories’ association is concerned scrap metal smuggling abroad has increased and exhausted supplies, putting thousands of workers at risk of losing their jobs.
Abdul Nasir Reshtia, chief executive of the association says that with borders reopening, Afghanistan’s scrap metal is being smuggled once again to neighbouring countries.
Reshtia warns that in next ten days, the smuggling will push factories to close as they cannot operate without scrap metal.
Taliban fighters kill at least two in Asadabad
At least two people have been killed after Taliban fighters opened fire at a crowd celebrating Independence Day in Asadabad, witnesses told Al Jazeera. At least eight people were wounded in the violence.
The Taliban fired on the crowd after someone stabbed a Taliban fighter with a knife, according to witnesses and videos on social media.
In Jalalabad, Taliban fighters fired at people waving the Afghan national flag, injuring a man and a teenage boy who were transported by rickshaw to nearby hospitals.
In Khost, Taliban fighters are enforcing a curfew to stop protests against them, while people have also come out in the streets of Kabul, defending the republic’s flag.
Today, a large number of people are marching in front of the entrance of the Presidential Palace ARG in Kabul Jan, in which a large number of women and youth are participating, chanting slogans in favor of their country and national flag.#IndependenceDayAfghanistan pic.twitter.com/wTIoQ2N0Kc
— Ihtesham Afghan (@IhteshamAfghan) August 19, 2021
Images of women vandalised in Kabul
Infographic: Afghanistan’s flags over the years
The Taliban intends to replace the Afghan flag with their white banner bearing the Shahada: “La ilah ila Allah, Mohammad rasoul Allah” (There is no god but God and Muhammad is God’s messenger) after retaking the country on Sunday.
This is not the first time Afghanistan’s flag has changed.
Here is the story of how it has evolved over the past 100 years.
Afghanistan’s situation makes West look weak: UK
What happened in Afghanistan after a 20-year war led by the US means the West’s resolve is now seen as weak by adversaries like Russia, British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace says.
“We have a world order now, where resolve is perceived by our adversaries as weak, the West’s resolve,” Wallace told BBC TV.
“That is something we should all worry about: if the West is seen not to have resolve, and it fractures, then our adversaries like Russia find that encouraging,” Wallace told LBC radio.
Taliban marks Afghan independence
The Taliban celebrated Afghanistan’s Independence Day, commemorating the 1919 treaty that ended British rule, by declaring it had beaten “the arrogant of power of the world”, the US.
“Today we are celebrating the anniversary of independence from Britain,” the Taliban said.
“We at the same time, as a result of our jihadi resistance, forced another arrogant of power of the world, the United States, to fail and retreat from our holy territory of Afghanistan.”
Afghanistan events ‘a catastrophe and a nightmare’: Borrell
The EU’s foreign policy chief branded developments in Afghanistan “a catastrophe and a nightmare” and said there had been a failure of intelligence to anticipate the Taliban’s return to power there.
Josep Borrell told the European Parliament that the first group of 106 EU staff in Afghanistan had been airlifted from the country and arrived in Madrid, Spain.
He also said about 400 Afghans who worked with the EU, and their family members, had been evacuated to Europe but there were 300 more still trying to make it to Kabul airport.
Afghan resistance leader asks for help in anti-Taliban fight
Ahmad Massoud, leader of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, is urging people to join the fight against the Taliban in an op-ed in the Washington Post newspaper.
He says his fighters are “prepared to once again take on the Taliban” in Panjshir but that they “need more weapons, more ammunition and more supplies”.
“America and its democratic allies do not just have the fight against terrorism in common with Afghans. We now have a long history made up of shared ideals and struggles. There is still much that you can do to aid the cause of freedom. You are our only remaining hope.”
UN should step up its diplomatic efforts in Afghanistan: Brahimi
Veteran UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi told Al Jazeera the UN should step up its diplomatic efforts in Afghanistan.
“The UN should be there, definitely… It is time for diplomacy… you know, the Taliban are a strong player now on the ground. If they want to, they can tomorrow declare a government and… they’ll be all right – for one week, for two weeks, for a month, for a year,” Brahimi added.
“But if you don’t have a real inclusive government, then… the terrible saga of Afghanistan, for 40 years – 50 years actually – will resume or will continue.”
Taliban urge people to leave Kabul airport after 12 killed
According to Taliban and NATO officials, a total of 12 people have been killed in and around Kabul airport since the Taliban seized the city on Sunday, triggering a rush of fearful people trying to leave.
The deaths were caused either by gunshots or in stampedes, the Taliban official said, urging people still crowded at the airport gates to go home if they did not have the right paperwork to travel.
“We don’t want to hurt anyone at the airport,” said the Taliban official, who declined to be identified.
Kabul evacuees land in Germany as airlift gathers pace
Two planes have landed at Frankfurt Airport with about 500 evacuees from Kabul as the pace of German evacuations increases after a chaotic start. The two planes were chartered from Lufthansa and Uzbekistan Airways.
After landing, passengers spoke of chaos at Kabul airport. Mahmud Sadjadi said he saw dead people and heard shooting, describing the situation as “helplessness, hopelessness. Nothing but chaos.”
Another passenger, who did not want to be named, said: “The situation is difficult and not easy to get under control… But the people in Afghanistan need help. The world must help.”
Italy working to hold extraordinary G20 summit
Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi is organising a Group of 20 summit on the situation in Afghanistan, according to two national newspapers.
Italy holds the rotating G20 presidency this year and the possible meeting is expected earlier than the scheduled summit in Rome in October, daily la Repubblica reported.
Hello, this is Tamila Varshalomidze, taking over the live updates from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed.
Afghan vice president ‘salutes’ anti-Taliban protesters
Amrullah Saleh, Afghanistan’s first vice president, feels “respect, support and appreciation” for Afghans who protest against the Taliban.
“Salute those who carry the national flag and thus stand for dignity of the nation and the country,” he said in a tweet.
از حرکت شجاعانه و میهن دوستانه مردم با عزت کشورم در نقاط مختلف بخاطر برافراشتن پرچم ملی برضد گروه نیابتی طالب ابراز حرمت ، حمایت و قدردانی می نمایم. شماری درین راه با عزت شهید شدند
Salute those who carry the national flag & thus stand for dignity of the nation & the country.
— Amrullah Saleh (@AmrullahSaleh2) August 19, 2021
US Congress to launch investigations on Afghanistan
Democratic-led committees in the US Senate and House of Representatives are pledging to press the Biden administration for not foreseeing how quickly the Taliban would take back power.
Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said legislators will investigate what he described as the “Biden administration’s flawed execution of the US withdrawal”.
Congressman Gregory Meeks, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he has invited Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to testify. A hearing could take place as soon as next week.
Taliban intensify search for Afghans who worked with US, NATO forces – NYT
A secret UN document claims the Taliban is intensifying a search for people it believes worked with US and NATO forces, including among the crowds at Kabul’s airport, the New York Times newspaper reported.
The document – seen by NYT – from a UN threat assessment adviser said there were multiple reports the Taliban had a list of people it wanted to question and punish.
It also said the Taliban had been going door to door and “arresting and/or threatening to kill or arrest family members of target individuals unless they surrender themselves”.
UN moving some staff out of Afghanistan
The UN is relocating 100 employees from Afghanistan to Almaty, Kazakhstan, according to a spokesman.
“This is a temporary measure intended to enable the UN to keep delivering assistance to the people of Afghanistan with the minimum of disruption while, at the same time, reducing risk to UN personnel,” said Stephane Dujarric.
He did not specify whether the staff being relocated were international or Afghan workers or both.
FAA says domestic airlines can run evacuation, relief flights out of Kabul
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says domestic air carriers and civilian pilots can now fly into Kabul for evacuation or relief flights.
But all such flights “must have permission” from the Department of Defense, it said in a statement.
Blinken speaks to counterparts in UK, Italy and Saudi Arabia
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he discussed evacuations from Afghanistan in calls with his counterparts from the UK and Italy.
I discussed diplomatic efforts to help ensure the safety and security of all Afghan and international citizens with @DominicRaab and reiterated U.S. support for the upcoming virtual G7 leaders meeting.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) August 18, 2021
In a series of tweets, Blinken also said he spoke with Saudi foreign minister Faisal bin Farhan “about ways the international community can support the Afghan people”.
Spoke today with Saudi Foreign Minister @FaisalbinFarhan about ways the international community can support the Afghan people as well as other shared regional priorities.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) August 18, 2021
He also reiterated a call for the protection of women and girls in Afghanistan.
NYT staff in Afghanistan ‘make it to safety’
The New York Times said all of its staff and their families in Afghanistan have “made it to safety”.
Editor Michael Slackman said the paper helped evacuate 65 families – 128 men, women, and children.
— NYTimes Communications (@NYTimesPR) August 19, 2021
Ex-Australian interpreter ‘shot in the leg by Taliban’ – report
A former interpreter for the Australian army has reportedly been shot in the leg by a Taliban fighter as he tried to get on a military evacuation flight out of Kabul, according to Australian broadcaster SBS.
The man said in a voice message that he had been waiting in line to reach the airport gate when a Taliban fighter shot him in the leg.
Photos obtained by SBS News show the man in hospital with a wounded leg.
UN warns of hunger in Afghanistan
Mary Ellen McGroarty, head of the UN food agency in Afghanistan, said a humanitarian crisis is unfolding as 14 million people face severe hunger after the Taliban takeover.
The WFP country director told reporters in a video briefing that the conflict, the nation’s second severe drought in three years, and the social and economic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic have pushed an already dire situation into a “catastrophe”.
More than 40 percent of crops have been lost, she said, while hundreds of thousands of people were displaced by the Taliban advance.
CPJ calls on Taliban to stop attacking journalists
The Committee to Protect Journalists is calling on the Taliban to stop attacking journalists and searching their homes after being informed of at least four incidents since the group took power.
The CPJ says the media must be allowed to “operate freely and without fear of violence or reprisal”.
It said it had received reports of at least four journalists whose homes were searched since the Taliban takeover, and was investigating reports that at least two reporters in Jalalabad had been beaten by the Taliban.
IMF blocks Afghanistan access to reserves citing ‘lack of clarity’
The International Monetary Fund has suspended Afghanistan’s access to IMF resources, including about $440m in new monetary reserves.
The announcement follows pressure from the US Treasury, which holds a controlling share in the Fund, to ensure that Afghanistan’s share of a Special Drawing Rights (SDR) reserves allocation scheduled for Monday does not fall into the Taliban’s hands.
“There is currently a lack of clarity within the international community regarding recognition of a government in Afghanistan, as a consequence of which the country cannot access SDRs or other IMF resources,” an IMF spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives.
For key developments from yesterday, August 18, go here.