At least 17 killed in Kabul in 'celebratory gunfire' after Taliban claims win over Panjshir valley

At least 17 people were killed and 41 wounded in Kabul on Friday night, reported Tolo News citing a hospital, after Taliban fighters fired ...

At least 17 people were killed and 41 wounded in Kabul on Friday night, reported Tolo News citing a hospital, after Taliban fighters fired weapons into the air in celebration.

"Emergency Hospital in Kabul said 17 bodies and 41 wounded people were transferred to its facility with the harm caused by last night's citywide firing into the air," Tolo News tweeted.

Earlier on Friday, "celebratory gunfire" was heard in Kabul amid conflicting reports over the situation in Panjshir valley where Taliban fighters are fighting rival forces for control of Afghanistan's final holdout province, said the report.

Heavy fighting is underway in Panjshir, the last Afghan province resisting rule by the Taliban.

According to certain media reports, more than 300 fighters from both sides have lost their lives during the fighting over the past few days.

The Taliban claimed on Friday that the province has fallen. However, the Northern Resistance Front has refuted the claim by the Taliban.

Fighters from the National Resistance Front -- made up of anti-Taliban militia and former Afghan security forces -- are understood to have significant weapon stockpiles in the valley, which lies around 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of Kabul.

Earlier Friday, Ali Maisam Nazary, a spokesman for the Panjshir resistance, who is understood to be outside the valley but in close contact with key leader Ahmad Massoud, said the fighting was "heavy" and that Massoud was "busy defending the valley".

Pro-Taliban Twitter accounts aired video clips purporting to show the new regime's fighters had captured tanks and other heavy military equipment inside the valley.

Taliban and resistance tweets suggested the key district of Paryan had been taken and lost again, but that could also not be independently verified.

Aid talks

Away from the valley, the international community was coming to terms with having to deal with the new Taliban regime with a flurry of diplomacy.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due on Sunday in Qatar, a key player in the Afghan saga and the location of the Taliban's political office, though he is not expected to meet with the militants.

He will then travel to Germany, to lead a virtual 20-nation ministerial meeting on Afghanistan alongside German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is also set to convene a high-level meeting on Afghanistan in Geneva on September 13, to focus on humanitarian assistance for the country.

The United Nations has already restarted humanitarian flights to parts of Afghanistan, while the country's flag carrier Ariana Afghan Airlines resumed domestic flights on Friday and the United Arab Emirates sent a plane

Threat of humanitarian disaster 

Even before the Taliban's lightning offensive, Afghanistan was heavily aid-dependent -- with 40 percent of the country's GDP drawn from foreign funding.

The UN has warned 18 million people are facing a humanitarian disaster, and another 18 million could quickly join them.

Qatar hopes to see the establishment of humanitarian aid corridors at Afghan airports within 48 hours, Doha's envoy to Afghanistan told Al Jazeera Friday.

The new rulers have pledged to be more accommodating than during their first stint in power, which also came after years of conflict -- first the Soviet invasion of 1979, and then a bloody civil war.

That regime was notorious for its brutal interpretation of Islamic law, and its treatment of women, who were forced inside, deprived of access to school and work and denied freedom of movement.

This time round, the Taliban have made repeated declarations that they will not carry out revenge attacks on opponents and that women will have access to education and some employment.

They have promised a more "inclusive" government that represents Afghanistan's complex ethnic makeup -- though women are unlikely to be included at the top levels.

In Kabul, some 30 women took to the streets to demand the right to work and inclusion in the government -- a day after several dozen women held a similar protest in the western city of Herat.

Residents also voiced worry over the country's long-running economic difficulties, now seriously compounded by the hardline movement's takeover.

But there were signs of normality in Kabul on Friday, where a near-full house turned out to watch Afghanistan's top cricketers play in a trial match, with Taliban and Afghan flags waving side by side in what witnesses described as a show of national unity.

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India World News: At least 17 killed in Kabul in 'celebratory gunfire' after Taliban claims win over Panjshir valley
At least 17 killed in Kabul in 'celebratory gunfire' after Taliban claims win over Panjshir valley
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