About 1,000 Taliban supporters attended a rally on Sunday in a vast field north of Kabul, in a display of strength as they consolidate their rule over Afghanistan.
The crowd, composed only of men and boys, listened to speeches by senior Taliban officials in the Kohdaman municipality in the hilly suburbs of the capital.
The demonstration was the first of its kind in the capital since the group seized control of the country after a lightning strike seven weeks ago.
Flanked by white and black Taliban standards and members in full combat gear with assault rifles, the speakers addressed an audience seated in rows of seats under canopies.
To start the proceedings, a procession of Taliban personnel paraded around the crowd carrying flags and weapons – including rocket launchers.
Some of the mostly unarmed supporters waved homemade posters, while others wore red or white Taliban headbands.
Tribal elders watched cross-legged from the side of the podium.
As the people arrived, music in praise of the Taliban’s actions echoed across the grounds as dozens of heavily armed Taliban personnel in military combat gear stood guard.
“America is defeated, impossible, impossible – but possible!” said a song.
Some chanted pro-Taliban slogans as they were driven along the dusty road in pickup trucks to the venue, while others shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is the greatest) as they entered the shaded area in front of the stage.
At the exit to the township, about 10 armed Taliban personnel lined the roadside under a large banner in honor of a dead Taliban member and professed the “support of the people of Kohdaman for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in its move to protect the country.” liberate” .
Last Thursday, the Taliban forcibly crushed a small women’s rights demonstration in eastern Kabul and fired shots into the air to disperse protesters.
Gunmen then pushed back the female protesters as they tried to continue the demonstration, while a foreign journalist was hit with a rifle and filming was blocked.
A Taliban terrorist unleashed a brief volley of gunfire into the air with his automatic weapon, AFP reporters noted.
Isolated anti-Taliban demonstrations – with women at the forefront – staged in cities across the country after the group took power, including in the western city of Herat, where two people were shot dead.
But protests have abated since the government issued an order banning demonstrations that had not been authorized in advance, and warned of “serious legal action” for violators.
The handful that have passed have been criticized as carefully orchestrated publicity stunts, including a rally at a university in Kabul where hundreds of fully veiled women expressed their support for the new regime.