At least 17 people were reportedly killed in Kabul due to celebratory gunfire by the Taliban. Reports emerged that the Taliban had defeated the National Resistance Front (NRF) in Panjshir Valley. 41 individuals, including children, were wounded.
“By the grace of Allah Almighty, we are in control of the entire Afghanistan. The troublemakers have been defeated and Panjshir is now under our command,” one Taliban commander told Reuters. After the celebratory gunfire claimed victims, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid criticized the practice of firing bullets into the air and asked members to stop immediately. He instructed militants not to waste bullets or shoot haphazardly.
After Kabul fell to the Taliban on Aug. 15, Panjshir Valley became the focus of the resistance movement against the Taliban. The movement is being led by Ahmad Massoud, son of former Afghan guerilla commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, who had fought the Taliban previously. Both sides have been locked in a struggle for days.
The rugged, mountainous terrain of Panjshir, which is littered with the wreckage of Soviet tanks, has proven tough for the Taliban to conquer. Panjshir is home to around 150,000 to 200,000 people.
The NRF dismissed Taliban claims of having won the battle, insisting that resistance members are present at “all strategic positions” and are continuing to fight. “The Taliban haven’t captured Panjshir. I am rejecting Taliban claims,” Ali Maisam, spokesman for the NRF, told the BBC.
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On Sep. 5, Massoud said that he was open to peace talks and called on the Taliban to end their attack. He said that the NRF, which is composed of local militias and former Afghan security force members, is prepared to stop fighting if the attacks are ceased. The Taliban did not respond.
On Sep. 6, Massoud uploaded a video on Twitter, calling for a national uprising against the Taliban. “This is what strength is. To fight for your religion, your dignity, your nation. Nothing is more honorable. My family from Balkh to Panjshir are resisting, Taliban are out to kill our families, either going door to door or in Panjshir!!!” Massoud tweeted.
Meanwhile, some media reports suggested that deposed Vice President Amrullah Saleh had fled the country. However, he said in an interview with CNN-News18 that such reports were “baseless” and that he still remains in Panjshir Valley. Saleh said that he would “never bow down to the Taliban.”
“We are managing the situation. Of course, it’s a difficult situation. We are under the invasion of the Taliban and Pakistanis and Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. We have held the ground, we have not lost territory… Over the past four-five days that the Taliban have launched their offensive, they have not been able to have any significant gain. They have suffered casualties, we have suffered casualties too,” Saleh said in the interview.
The Taliban have reportedly cut off telephone and internet services in Panjshir in a bid to prevent internal communication between members of the resistance forces. One Taliban source revealed to Daily Mail that their offensive in Panjshir has been slowed by landmines placed on surrounding roads.