Key cities in Afghanistan ‘militarized’ as Taliban takes stand against protestors

The Taliban have deployed additional security personnel and increased checkpoints in Kabul, Balkh, Herat, and Baghlan provinces, amid protests following their decision to suspend university education for Afghan women. 

A number of Kabul residents told Amu TV that the presence of Taliban forces on Kabul streets across the capital has transformed the city into a “combat mood” for two days.

Berdiya, a Kabul resident, said: “Today the city was militarized. There were checkpoints everywhere to check people. I was carrying a camera to take some pictures of parts of Kabul city as it was Friday (holiday), but they (the Taliban) seized my camera at one of their checkpoints. I explained to them why I had a camera with me. They threatened me and told me that I was not allowed to take pictures today and to return home as soon as possible.”

Tamana, another resident of Kabul, said that the Taliban forces were checking everyone across the city.

“For two days, the situation has been completely militarized, and for a few moments, I thought that the Taliban were ready for war. Military belts have been installed at all crossroads and Taliban men are deployed in the area. They were checking and asking everyone why they had left home and where they were going,” she said.

A number of social media users also posted a video recording that shows several drones patrolling over Kabul city on Friday.

Meanwhile, a number of residents of Balkh, Herat, and Baghlan provinces told Amu TV that they witnessed the heavy presence of Taliban armed forces on Thursday through Friday.

A resident of Balkh’s capital Mazar-e-Sharif city, who wished to remain anonymous, told Amu TV that the Taliban have sent warnings to mosques ordering people not to participate in demonstrations against the Taliban’s decision. 

“The Taliban were questioning passengers, why were they going to the market? Were they going for a demonstration? Balkh has been militarized following the closure of universities.

The girls who went to markets for shopping were stopped and questioned if they were outside the home to participate in the protests,” he said.

Baghlan’s capital Pul-e-Khumri city also witnessed the presence of a large number of armed Taliban on Thursday and Friday, as experienced in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif cities.

Basil Ahmadi, a resident of Pul-e-Khumri, said:“I am currently in the city, the situation is not normal. Women’s movements have been restricted. The Sir Chowk area has completely been militarized, they (Taliban) even deployed tanks and armored vehicles, The Taliban forces can be seen everywhere, girls move around with fear and they are not allowed to enter the center of the city from all sides.”

A resident of Herat also wrote in a message to Amu TV, that the Taliban have deployed armored vehicles including Humvees across Herat city, following the Taliban announcement to ban women from universities.

The Taliban-run ministry of higher education on Tuesday sent a letter to public and private universities ordering them to “immediately” suspend classes for Afghan women until further notice.

A number of Afghan women marched on the Kabul streets on Thursday morning to protest the Taliban’s decision on depriving them of their right to education. The Taliban, however, suppressed the demonstration, beat some of the protesters, and detained five women involved in the demonstration. The Taliban released two women including civil activists

Zahra Mandgar and Angiza Goonish from custody hours after their detention. So far, there is no information about the whereabouts of the three remaining protesters including Ruqia Saee, Hadia Bahar, and Karishma Ali.