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Anti-Taliban protests continue on Afghanistan Independence Day, are met with violence

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HOSHANG HASHIMI/AFP via Getty Images

Anti-Taliban protests in Afghanistan continued Thursday and were met with violence from the Islamist militants, who opened fire on crowds and reportedly killed several people.

According to Reuters, the protests that began Wednesday have spread to more cities and even parts of the capital, Kabul. Hundreds of people flocked to the streets to wave the tricolor Afghanistan flag in a patriotic demonstration for the country's Independence Day.

A video posted on social media showed a crowd of men and women waving the black, red, and green national flag and shouting "Our flag, our identity" in the streets of Kabul.

Marchers also chanted "God is greatest."

Several protesters in the eastern city of Asadabad were killed after Taliban soldiers fired on a crowd, triggering a stampede. It was unclear whether the casualties were caused by gunfire or by the stampede, a witness said.

Yesterday, at least three people were reportedly killed in the city of Jalalabad when Taliban soldiers opened fire on a crowd of protesters.

Since Kabul fell to the Taliban on Sunday, spokesmen for the new regime in Afghanistan have repeatedly insisted that they seek peace, will respect the rights of women, and will form an "inclusive, Islamic government."

But videos of the violent treatment of protesters contradict the Taliban's public claims and serve as a reminder of the oppressive conditions the Afghan people lived under when the Taliban previously ruled the country.

Footage obtained by Fox News shows people running and cyclists and motorists charging down the streets of Asadabad while flying the Afghanistan flag. Gunshots can be heard in the background.

Fox News reported that elsewhere in Kabul, a crowd of people took cover near the international airport as gunmen opened fire. As seen in the video, a woman and her child crouched as guns roared and people fled.

It is not clear what prompted the violence.

"Salute those who carry the national flag and thus stand for dignity of the nation," said Afghanistan First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, an ousted leader of the Western-backed government who is working to rally resistance to the Taliban.

Saleh on Tuesday declared himself the "legitimate caretaker president" of Afghanistan after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country to the United Arab Emirates.

Other leaders are trying to build opposition to the Taliban.

Ahmad Massoud, the leader of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post calling on Western governments to continue to support the fight against the Taliban.

"I write from the Panjshir Valley today, ready to follow in my father's footsteps, with mujahideen fighters who are prepared to once again take on the Taliban," Massoud wrote. His father, Ahmad Shah Massoud, was a veteran guerrilla leader who was killed by suspected al Qaeda terrorists in 2001.

Massoud asked for Afghanistan's supporters in the West to rally their governments to send weapons, ammunition, and supplies to continue the fight against the Islamist regime.

"The Taliban is not a problem for the Afghan people alone. Under Taliban control, Afghanistan will without doubt become ground zero of radical Islamist terrorism; plots against democracies will be hatched here once again," Massoud wrote.

"America and its democratic allies do not just have the fight against terrorism in common with Afghans. We now have a long history made up of shared ideals and struggles. There is still much that you can do to aid the cause of freedom. You are our only remaining hope."

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