Horrifying new reports out of Afghanistan continue to shed light on the Taliban’s brutal regime, as the West scrambles to evacuate citizens caught in the crossfire.
According to former judge Najla Ayoubi, a woman was set on fire on Thursday in the country’s north after being forced to cook for militants.
“They are forcing people to give them food and cook them food. A woman was put on fire because she was accused of bad cooking for Taliban fighters,” Ms Ayoubi told Sky News, describing the situation on the ground as a “nightmare”.
As a vocal supporter for women’s rights in Afghanistan, Ms Ayoubi said she was forced to flee for her life once the wind was blowing in the Taliban’s direction.
“There are so many young women are being in the past few weeks being shipped into neighbouring countries in coffins to be used as sex slaves,” she continued.
“They also force families to marry their young daughters to Taliban fighters. I don‘t see where is the promise that they think women should be going to work, when we are seeing all of these atrocities.”
The inevitable fall of Kabul was tipped to take months, with militants seizing control of regions in the south as the United States and remaining allies announced the evacuation of their military forces in early 2021. The controversial 20-year campaign to fight extremism at its root cost trillions of dollars.
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Barely a week after US President Joe Biden boldly rejected the prospect of an extremist takeover, the Taliban organisation – having now grown beyond 200,000 from an estimated 11,000 a decade ago – toppled the government this week.
The Taliban have insisted this time will be different. After being forced into the shadows nearing extinction over the past two decades of occupation, the militant group has vowed its new attempt at an Islamic state will be an “inclusive” and restrained regime.
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Allowing a single female journalist into their dystopian press conference this week was apparently ample signalling for the radical movement’s “progressive” new leaf.
However, within the first few days of the takeover, the world has witnessed the Taliban publicly execute a former police chief and associates of journalists among other unfortunate souls now deemed dissidents.
Women have been put under horrific new conditions. Many have been forced into arranged marriages with Taliban fighters, including girls as young as 12, with some being shipped abroad alive in coffins to serve as sex slaves.
The new information came after videos emerged of Taliban fighters pistol-whipping civilians carrying Afghan national flags on the street. Further reports claim minorities are being tortured to death, with their muscles sliced from their bodies.
German News Deutsche Welle (DW) on Thursday revealed Taliban fighters killed a relative of one of their reporters in Afghanistan.
“The killing of a close relative of one of our editors by the Taliban yesterday is inconceivably tragic, and testifies to the acute danger in which all our employees and their families in Afghanistan find themselves,” DW Director General Peter Limbourg wrote.
“It is evident that the Taliban are already carrying out organised searches for journalists, both in Kabul and in the provinces. We are running out of time!”
The Taliban has intensified its hunt-down of all suspected collaborators linked to the former regime.
“If unsuccessful, they will target and arrest the families and punish them according to their own interpretation of Sharia law,” a threat assessment document prepared for the UN read.
“Particularly at risk are individuals in central positions in military, police and investigative units.”
World leaders have kept a worrisome eye on the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, where untold thousands of locals are still attempting to board planes out of the deteriorating capital.
The streets of the 4.6 million-strong city quickly turned chaos upon word the Taliban had surrounded the perimeter, with makeshift camps set up alongside the runway.
Harrowing footage of a single body falling from a departing military plane, which was surrounded by hundreds of desperate refugees as it taxied across the tarmac, detailed the desperation felt by those stuck in Kabul.
Roughly 18,000 people have been flown out of the city with “tens upon tens of thousands” still stranded and seeking visas.
NATO Secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said the priority is to keep the airport running as long as possible and assist civilians stranded on the tarmac.
One photo showed a number of Turkish soldiers comforting a woman collapsed on the ground after reportedly losing her passport.
“The situation remains difficult and unpredictable,” Mr Stoltenberg said. “The main challenge we face is ensuring that people reach and enter Kabul airport.”
Mr Biden has declared the ongoing evacuation mission as one of the most difficult in history. The US Military confirmed overnight a baby had been passed over razor wire at Kabul airport by a desperate mother fearing for her child’s health.
“We‘ve made significant progress, we’ve secured the airport enabling flights to resume,” he said.
“This is one of the largest, most difficult airlifts in history. Any American who wants to get home, we will get home you home.”