seasoned Taliban fighters take day off at amusement park | World news


By Jorge Silva and Gibran Naiyyar Peshimam

KABUL (Reuters) – Casually walking around with machine guns in hand, Halimi and hundreds of other Taliban fighters took advantage of a rare day off with a visit to a waterfront amusement park in Kabul.

Friday’s day trip to the sandy shores of the Qargha Reservoir in the capital was a welcome break for fighters after months of conflict and weeks of security service since the Taliban seized power in the mid August.

“I am very happy to come to Kabul and to be able to visit Qargha for the first time … people have welcomed me and my companions in a fraternal way,” Halimi, 24, a fighter from the province told Reuters. Maidan Wardak power station. , asking not to give his full name.

The fighters, who were all heavily armed in the park, sipped tea and bought snacks from stalls scattered along the shore.

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Some lined up to try the amusement park rides, which included a pirate ship and a carousel of flying chairs.

Behind Halimi, Ziaul Haq, 25, also from Maidan Wardak, beamed as he set off for a horse ride.

Most of the fighters had never been to Kabul until the Taliban took control of the capital on August 15, and some were eager to visit the amusement park before resuming their duties across the country.

“We’re proud to have fought and now they (the Americans) are gone, it’s the happiest thing we’ve experienced yet,” said Halimi, adding that he had met a cousin at the park and had a picnic to celebrate the Return of the Taliban.

The Taliban waged a 20-year insurgency against a Western-backed government before returning to power in August after President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan. Most of its fighters knew little outside of the insurgency.

Fighters are now tasked with providing nationwide security, which has become increasingly fragile following at least three attacks on religious institutions last week.

A suicide bombing Friday in a mosque in northwest Afghanistan killed at least 46 people and injured more than 140.

The attack was claimed by the Islamic State of Khorasan (IS-K), a name taken from the ancient name of the region which includes modern-day Afghanistan.

(Edited by Helen Popper)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.