Taliban fighters opened fire on protesters in the Afghan city of Jalalabad on Wednesday, killing at least three and wounding at least a dozen more according to witnesses who spoke with Reuters.
Reuters reported people had gathered in Jalalabad in protest of the Taliban’s recent, near-total takeover of the country. Many waived the Afghan national flag in opposition to the Taliban. Video has emerged online showing crowds of people, many with the Afghan national flag, fleeing at the sound of multiple gunshots.
Disclose.tv initially tweeted, “NEW – Taliban militants open fire at protesters waving the national flag in #Jalalabad, the fifth-largest city of Afghanistan. 2 dead, at least 10 injured so far.”
Videos shared from additional angles more clearly show what appear to be Taliban militants moving into the street with rifles at the ready as the shooting begins.
“Breaking: Protestors in Jalalabad city want the national flag back on offices & rejects Taliban terrorists’ flag. Taliban openly fires at protestors. Reports of casualties,” Najeeb Nangyal, the director of the Afghanistan High Peace Council, tweeted.
Reuters reported two witnesses said three people were killed and more than a dozen were injured. A former police official separately told Reuters that four people had been killed during the protests and 13 people were injured.
A Taliban source separately told Reuters at least one person had been killed in the city.
“There were some troublemakers who wanted to create issues for us,” a Taliban militant, who was in Jalalabad at the time of the shooting, told Reuters. “These people are exploiting our relaxed policies.”
CNN reported the Taliban fighters began firing after protesters pulled a Taliban flag down from flag from the main square and replaced it with the Afghan national flag.
Pajhwok Afghan News also reported the Taliban beat video journalists present during the shooting incident in Jalalabad.
The shooting incident comes a day after Taliban militants set up checkpoints around the U.S.-controlled Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. The Taliban fighters blocked and beat Afghans attempting to flee the country. On Tuesday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan the U.S. had addressed the issue with the Taliban and the Taliban subsequently pledged to once again let civilians through to reach the airport after initially denying them passage.