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Despite efforts to improve image after taking over, Taliban kill one clearing protest

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A day after a Taliban spokesman announced efforts to improve the group’s image compared to the last time it was in charge of Afghanistan, Taliban forces killed one person while violently clearing a protest Wednesday. The video above shows the scene of the protest in Jalalabad.

Dozens of people gathered to raise the national flag a day before Afghanistan’s Independence Day, which commemorates the end of British rule in 1919.

“I am standing here in front of you,” an unnamed protester said. “You can hit me with 30 bullets, kill me. I will sacrifice my life for this flag, this is my flag. My government will soon be back, God willing.”

Protesters lowered the Taliban flag militants had been raising raised in the areas they captured.

Video footage later showed the Taliban firing into the air and attacking people with batons to disperse the crowd. A reporter for a local news agency said he and a cameraman from another agency were beaten by the Taliban as they tried to cover the unrest.

A local health official said at least one person was killed and six were wounded in total.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, the Taliban blew up a statue depicting Abdul Ali Mazari, a militia leader killed by the Taliban in 1996. The act further raised concerns about whether the Taliban would make good on promises, which included not seeking revenge on those who have opposed them. Afghan residents have reported groups of armed men going door to door inquiring about Afghans who worked with the Americans or the deposed government.

Despite all this, the Taliban pressed ahead with efforts to form an “inclusive, Islamic government.” They have been holding talks with former Afghan President Hamid Karzai and a senior official in the ousted government.

As officials work to shape a future government, the United Arab Emirates acknowledged current Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his family were in that country. The UAE’s Foreign Ministry acknowledged in a one-sentence statement that Ghani and his family had fled to the country for “humanitarian considerations.”

A day after a Taliban spokesman announced efforts to improve the group’s image compared to the last time it was in charge of Afghanistan, Taliban forces killed one person while violently clearing a protest Wednesday. The video above shows the scene of the protest in Jalalabad.

Dozens of people gathered to raise the national flag a day before Afghanistan’s Independence Day, which commemorates the end of British rule in 1919.

“I am standing here in front of you,” an unnamed protester said. “You can hit me with 30 bullets, kill me. I will sacrifice my life for this flag, this is my flag. My government will soon be back, God willing.”

Protesters lowered the Taliban flag militants had been raising raised in the areas they captured.

Video footage later showed the Taliban firing into the air and attacking people with batons to disperse the crowd. A reporter for a local news agency said he and a cameraman from another agency were beaten by the Taliban as they tried to cover the unrest.

A local health official said at least one person was killed and six were wounded in total.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, the Taliban blew up a statue depicting Abdul Ali Mazari, a militia leader killed by the Taliban in 1996. The act further raised concerns about whether the Taliban would make good on promises, which included not seeking revenge on those who have opposed them. Afghan residents have reported groups of armed men going door to door inquiring about Afghans who worked with the Americans or the deposed government.

Despite all this, the Taliban pressed ahead with efforts to form an “inclusive, Islamic government.” They have been holding talks with former Afghan President Hamid Karzai and a senior official in the ousted government.

As officials work to shape a future government, the United Arab Emirates acknowledged current Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his family were in that country. The UAE’s Foreign Ministry acknowledged in a one-sentence statement that Ghani and his family had fled to the country for “humanitarian considerations.”

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