Taliban says Afghanistan ‘free nation’

Tuesday, August 31st, 2021 00:00 |
Afghan Air Force’s A-29 attack aircraft are pictured as armoured vests are lying on the ground inside a hangar at the airport in Kabul yesterday, after the US has pulled all its troops out of the country to end a brutal 20-year war -- one that started and ended with the hardline Islamist in power. Photo/AFP

Kabul, Tuesday

The Taliban welcomed the US withdrawal from Afghanistan early Tuesday after the last US troops left the Kabul airport, ending a 20-year invasion war in the Central Asian country.

“In this way, our country became completely free and independent,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid wrote on Twitter.

The final evacuation flight was conducted on the last hours of Monday night, airlifting the last US military and non-military personnel back home one day before the August 31 deadline set by US President Joe Biden. 

“The US had withdrawn from Afghanistan after two decades, but the Americans left a mess in our country,” said Khoja Wahid, a Kabul resident.

“The US is defeated and they are badly defeated,” said the 42-year-old man. 

“As I found in media report early Tuesday that Americans are going to open Afghanistan’s embassy in Qatar. It is showing that the US lost everything in Afghanistan.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said just hours after the final evacuation flights left Kabul that the United States shifted its diplomatic operations to Qatar.

“As of today, we’ve suspended our diplomatic presence in Kabul and transferred our operations to Doha, Qatar,” the top US diplomat said. 

Another Kabul resident Ahmad Fawad said the US claimed they came to Afghanistan to ensure peace and security and uphold human rights, but “you can see their evacuation was not conducted in a responsible manner, as so many people died, including 13 US soldiers.”

Fawad referred to the suicide bomb blast and gun firing on Aug. 26, which killed at least 160 Afghans and 13 US troops, and injured nearly 200 others at a gate of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, when huge crowds were waiting to board evacuation flights. 

 ISIS-K, a local affiliate of the Islamic State group in Afghanistan, claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.

“Although thousands of Afghan experts and educated people left the country, and the young generation is still determined to stay in Afghanistan if peace returned and their safety and security are ensured,” he said.

“Now, it is on the United States, their allies, the UN and countries in the region to help Afghans in building our future.”

Shortly after Mujahid’s comments on social media roughly at 1:00 a.m. Tuesday local time, Taliban members started celebratory gun firing in the capital Kabul, which lasted for about an hour, causing panic among local residents.

Following the firing, Mujahid said in a separate tweet that “the gunshots heard in Kabul are as a result of celebratory firing, the Kabul residents should not worry, we are trying to control it.”

The capital city Kabul is calm “like other normal days,” but a US unmanned plane has been spotted flying over the city, witnesses in Kabul told Xinhua. - Xinhua

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