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AFGHANISTAN: Taliban marks two years since return to power

Afghanistan’s Taliban government marked on Tuesday the second anniversary of their takeover of the country with celebrations and a public holiday, issuing a defiant statement commemorating their surge back to power.

Flags of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan — the name given to the country by its new rulers — fluttered at security checkpoints across the capital, which fell on August 15, 2021, when the US-backed government collapsed and its leaders fled into exile.

In the two years since, Taliban authorities have imposed their strict interpretation of Islam, with women bearing the brunt of laws the United Nations has termed “gender apartheid”.

A statement from the authorities early Tuesday hailed a victory that was able to “pave the way for the establishment of the Islamic system in Afghanistan”.

“The conquest of Kabul proved once again that no one can control the proud nation of Afghanistan” and that “no invader will be allowed to threaten the independence and freedom” of the country, it said.

Quiet Kabul streets early on Tuesday began to give way to convoys of Taliban members and a gathering at Massoud Square near the abandoned US embassy building.

Some of the men carried their weapons, while others snapped smiling selfies as anthems blared and young boys sold the movement’s white flag inscribed with the Islamic declaration of faith.

In Herat in the west, a crowd of Taliban supporters chanted: “Death to the Europeans, death to the Westerners, long live the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, death to the Americans.”

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