Afghanistan between defiance and despair
After the Taliban takeover, people in Afghanistan are still trying to leave the country in droves. But there's resistance, too: Many Afghans have taken to the streets to protest against the militant Islamist group.
Independence Day protests
After the initial shock, people across Afghanistan have started going out into the streets to protest against the Taliban regime. On Afghanistan's Independence Day (19.08.), Afghans in Kabul and eastern Afghanistan celebrated the end of British rule 102 years ago ― and showed defiance in the face of the Taliban's return to power by holding up Afghanistan's national flag.
Rallying around the flag
The black, red and green of Afghanistan's national flag was a strong symbol in the Independance Day protest, as it stands in strong contrast to the Taliban's white flag. "Hundreds of people came out on the streets," Mohammad, one of the protesters, told Reuters. "At first I was scared and didn't want to go but when I saw one of my neighbors joined in, I took out the flag I have at home."
Victory over the foreign occupier
Taliban fighters and supporters also took to the streets to celebrate Independence Day, with the militant Islamist group proudly declaring they beat the United States. They did this not bearing the black, red and green, but their own flag.
The Taliban flag: White and black
Raising a white flag means anything but surrender in Afghanistan these days. Instead, it's a sign the Taliban are back in power. Their ensign is white and bears the Shahada, the Islamic profession of faith. The militant fighters have been displaying it prominently since taking back Afghanistan, for example on street patrols.
Crossing into neighboring countries
Countless Afghans have been trying to leave the country since the Taliban's return to power. One way out is to cross into Pakistan. The Afghan families pictured here made their way into the neighboring country on Thursday, at the key border crossing of Spin Boldak/Chaman. The crossing was also open for trade, with trucks carrying agricultural produce crossing in both directions, Reuters reported.
Desperate to escape
Scores of people lined a Kabul road Friday (20.08.), waiting to board a US military plane leaving Afghanistan. At the city's Hamid Karzai Airport, the situation is still tense. The Taliban are trying to keep people from reaching the airport, while US troops attempt to keep order. Earlier, several people died when crowds ran onto the tarmac and clung to planes that were taking off.
Those who had made it past Taliban checkpoints on the streets of Kabul left their cars behind when they made it to the airport ― in hopes that they would make it onto one of the flights and out of the country. The cars were later destroyed by those who were denied access to the airport and thus to safety.
Scrambling to evacuate
The US military is trying to keep the situation at the airport in Kabul under control. Washington, along with other Western powers, has been criticized for failing to start evacuation of embassy personnel and Afghan locals who helped their military earlier. Now it's far from certain whether all vulnerable persons, including local journalists, can still be brought to safety.