The Taliban has been accused of burning down an amusement park in northern Afghanistan because it had ‘idolatrous statues’ as their ‘moderate’ facade crumbles.
The jihadists torched the recreation grounds last night in the northern city of Sheberghan which are also used for holding sports and cultural events for children.
Sheberghan is in the heartlands of the vanquished strongman Abdul Rashid Dostum whose opulent mansion was seized by the jihadists when he fled over the border into Uzbekistan on Saturday.
The Taliban had objected to statues within the grounds of the amusement park which they claimed were idolatrous under their extreme interpretation of Islam, according to local reports.
This despite the so-called ‘Taliban 2.0’ putting up a sophisticated PR front for the world’s media, with various spokesmen declaring that the Taliban of today are very different to that of 20 years ago.
The jihadists torched the recreation grounds in the northern city of Sheberghan which are also used for holding sports and cultural events for children
The Taliban had objected to statues within the grounds of the amusement park which they claimed were idolatrous under their extreme interpretation of Islam, according to local reports (pictured: the burning amusement park)
This despite the so-called ‘Taliban 2.0’ putting up a sophisticated PR front for the world’s media, with various spokesmen declaring that the Taliban of today are very different to that of 20 years ago (pictured: the theme park burns)
But the terror which they strike into the heart’s of the populace – some of them willing to risk their lives by clambering onto moving planes – belies their claims.
In Kabul they have been kicking down the doors of civil servants, teachers and interpreters who worked for foreign governments.
One man said his neighbour in Kabul had been seized and the fighters said they were going to hang him.
A female mayor in the city has revealed she is just waiting for the Taliban to come and ‘kill me.’
Across the country there are chilling reports of Taliban fighters marauding the streets hunting girls as young as 12 that they can make their sex slaves.
And chaos still reigns at Kabul airport today where thousands have arrived to try and gain safe passage to neighbouring countries and the West.
Ex-pats and visa holders are unable to get ‘anywhere near’ the airport because ‘huge crowds’ of ‘terrified locals’ are blocking the way, MailOnline has been told.
This despite American and British lawmakers insisting Taliban guards are letting people through checkpoints and planes are not taking off empty.
Fighters wielding guns were filmed walking around the luxurious oval-shaped room, filled with chandeliers and gold furniture, and posing in chairs
Videos captured snapshots of the chaos as gunmen fired shots over the heads of panicked crowds while hitting people with rifles – as those on the ground said Taliban fighters were dishing out beatings and lashings seemingly at random, with people being trampled and crushed in the throng.
Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing, a former Marine who now lives in Kabul with his wife, described the scene as a ‘clusterf***’, telling MailOnline: ‘Two ex-pats – one British and one Norwegian – have already been forced to turn back this morning because they can’t get through.
‘And last night a UN convoy carrying various foreign nationals, who had been working in Afghanistan for NGOs, had to turn round because of the sheer volume of people on the street.’
Such is the desperation among crowds at the airport that women have resorted to passing babies over barbed wire to soldiers in a vain attempt to get them out of the country.
An Afghan-Australian trying to leave the country also told ABC it is ‘not possible’ to get to the airport because there is ‘lots of firing’ and ‘too many people’ while Max Sangeen, a Canadian interpreter, said his wife and children – including a 20-day-old baby – are trapped in Kabul despite having the correct documents.
Taliban fighters have been filmed whipping women near Kabul airport as witnesses told MailOnline that the Islamists have been dealing out brutal beatings at random
But it is not clear what western troops can do to help. There are around 6,000 American and 900 British soldiers at the airport – alongside smaller numbers of Turks and Australians – but their jurisdiction only extends up to the perimeter wall. Beyond that, the Taliban is in charge.
The huge US contingent keeping the airport secured piles pressure on Britain to get its citizens out quickly, with the smaller UK force unlikely to be able the hold the site if the Americans leave.
Those on the ground say the Islamists have little or no idea what they are doing or who to let through, as the UN warned fighters are hunting through the crowd for those who collaborated with British or American forces so they can be ‘punished’ – despite public reassurances that there will be no reprisal attacks.
UK defence secretary Ben Wallace said today Taliban guards are allowing people with travel documents through checkpoints and British flights are not leaving the country empty – insisting that ‘not a single seat is wasted’.
He revealed 120 people were evacuated this morning, with 138 due to follow later. There were eight RAF transport planes – made up of A400 Atlas, C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemasters – scheduled to leave Kabul today.
Taliban gunmen open fire at crowds outside Kabul airport today as westerners and visa holders say they cannot get inside because of ‘huge crowds’ of ‘terrified locals’
Those on the ground say Taliban guards have little idea who to let inside the airport, while dishing out beatings, lashings and firing shots seemingly at random – causing further panic and chaos
But with military transports able to carry up to 150, it means there will have been empty seats on the flights despite Mr Wallace’s claims.
The passengers were made up of British citizens, media and human rights staff and Afghans who had worked for the British.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed there were six British flights out of Kabul yesterday – despite Mr Wallace saying there were seven to 10 daily – meaning a maximum of 900 passengers were on board and free from the Taliban.
Meanwhile President Joe Biden said when pressed Wednesday US troops were ‘going to stay’ in Afghanistan until they get American citizens out, even if it means running through an August 31 deadline order.
He made the statement despite his own order soldiers will leave by the date, acknowledging the effort could run over if its citizens are still stuck in Afghanistan amid security and bureaucratic hurdles.