At least 17 people were killed and 41 others wounded on Friday night in Kabul, local media say, as Taliban fighters fired into air to celebrate victory after rumours that northern Panjshir Valley had fallen.
At least 17 people have been killed in celebratory gunfire in Kabul, news agencies said, after Taliban sources said their fighters had seized control of Panjshir, the last province in Afghanistan holding out against it.
“Emergency Hospital in Kabul said 17 bodies and 41 wounded people were transferred to its facility with harm caused by last night’s citywide firing into the air,” Tolo News reported on Saturday.
Shamshad news agency gave a similar toll.
Taliban fighters are still battling to extinguish the last flame of opposition in the Panjshir Valley, which held out for a decade against the Soviet Union’s occupation and also the Taliban’s first rule from 1996-2001.
Late Friday, celebratory gunfire rang out across Kabul as rumours spread the valley had fallen, but the Taliban made no official claim and a resident told AFP news agency by phone the reports were false.
Former vice president Amrullah Saleh, one of the leaders of the opposition forces, also denied those claims.
The gunfire drew a rebuke from the main Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid.
“Avoid shooting in the air and thank God instead,” Mujahid said in a message on Twitter.
“The weapons and bullets given to you are public property. No one has the right to waste them. The bullets can also harm civilians, don’t shoot in vain.”
The rugged mountain valley with towering snow-capped peaks –– which begins around 80 kilometres north of the capital Kabul –– is the centre of Afghanistan’s most important pocket of armed anti-Taliban forces.
The National Resistance Front (NRF), comprising anti-Taliban militia fighters and former Afghan security forces, have vowed to defend the enclave.
The valley has immense symbolic value in Afghanistan as the area that has resisted occupation by invaders.
Ahmad Massoud, one of the NRF’s leaders, is the son of the late guerrilla commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was dubbed the “Lion of Panjshir” for holding out, first against Soviet and then Taliban forces.
The valley has limited entry points and its geography offers a natural military advantage –– defending units can use high positions to effectively target attacking forces.
Taliban fighters in Panjshir outskirts
Meanwhile, video filmed by Taliban fighters appeared to show them on the outskirts of Panjshir Valley.
The undated video seen by Reuters news agency showed Humvees adorned with the Taliban flag on the mountaintops close to the village of Golbahar in Kapisa, on the border close to the southern end of the valley.
The location of the video was verified by comparing terrain data and satellite imagery to scenes in the video.
Source: TRTWorld and agencies