Defiant Afghans wave national flag on independence anniversary

·2-min read

Defiant flag-waving Afghans took to the streets Thursday to mark the country's independence anniversary, just days after the Taliban seized power and raised their own white standard over government buildings.

An AFP staffer saw one group of men and women unfurl a large black, red and green tricolour near Wazir Akbar Khan -- a suburb in the capital -- even as a pick-up truck carrying Taliban fighters cruised slowly by.

The truck slowed down and the group attracted some curious stares, but the fighters rolled on and ignored the show of defiance.

Amanullah Khan, then the emir, declared independence in 1919 after the third Anglo-Afghan war and the country has had dozens of flags since then.

The latest was adopted in 2013 and features three vertical bands of black, red and green, with the national emblem printed in white.

On Wednesday, Taliban fighters fired shots to disperse dozens of Afghans in Jalalabad who waved the flag ahead of national day.

There were also unconfirmed reports of shots fired in Kunar Thursday and Twitter showed several cars and motorbikes racing through the Asadabad suburb of the capital while flying flags.

Social media also showed a crowd cheering a man shimmying up a pole in Abdul Haq Square -- also in Kabul -- before tying the flag to the top.

Another post showed dozens of protesters carrying flags and marching through the street elsewhere in the capital.

The Taliban flag is a plain white banner inscribed with the Islamic declaration of faith -- now a familiar pennant since the group's lightning-fast takeover of the country following a simmering 20-year insurgency.

On Thursday the Taliban put out a statement acknowledging independence day and the defeat of the British empire as well as the decade-long Russian occupation that ended in 1989.

"It is a matter of great pride for Afghans that their country is on the verge of independence from the American occupation today," it added.

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