The Taliban, now in near-total control of the country, are going door to door in newly conquered Kabul searching for journalists and political opponents, according to multiple outlets on the ground.
Afghanistan’s Tolo News outlet posted on Twitter Monday that Taliban forces had confiscated its security staff’s weapons and assumed responsibility for protecting the office. Taliban officials have begun confiscating civilian weapons, claiming civilians no longer need to defend themselves because they will instead keep the people safe.
— TOLOnews (@TOLOnews) August 16, 2021
A senior journalist for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFERL) said on Monday morning that the Taliban was targeting journalists and U.S. sympathizers, declaring on Twitter, “Kabul is now becoming deadly.”
Taliban started door to door search looking for govt officials, former police & security forces members & those who worked for foreign countries NGOs or infrastructures in Afghanistan.
At least 3 journalists' houses were searched in the last hour.
Kabul is now becoming deadly..
— Mustafa 47 (@CombatJourno) August 16, 2021
Women journalists, in particular, have much to fear from the Taliban resurgence given the group’s notorious mistreatment of women and stringent restrictions on their activities. The UK-based Guardian relayed the thoughts of several prominent women Afghan reporters who spoke anonymously due to fear of reprisals.
“For many years, I worked as a journalist … to raise the voice of Afghans, especially Afghan women, but now our identity is being destroyed and nothing has been done by us to deserve this,” one news anchor told the outlet on Monday. “In the last 24 hours, our lives have changed and we have been confined to our homes, and death threatens us at every moment.”
“Firstly I am worried about myself because I am a girl, and also a woman journalist,” another said.
The Taliban overtook Kabul on Sunday morning amid little to no resistance. After occupying the presidential palace, the terrorist group’s leaders declared victory in the war for the nation and the restoration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. President Ashraf Ghani fled the country ahead of the Taliban advance, later posting a message to Facebook claiming he did so to spare the city from further violence.
While armed conflict did not devastate the city, Ghani appears to have failed in his claimed effort as the terror group has simply moved against civilians rather than Afghan military personnel who might have offered a modicum of credible resistance.
Though the Taliban have promised to protect civilians and, ostensibly, safeguard journalistic offices, even male media personnel have good reason to be wary of such assurances as the group has been known to execute critical media figures. This month, the insurgent group assassinated Dawa Khan Menapal, the Afghan government’s chief media officer, previously a radio journalist and deputy spokesman for Ghani. He was head of the Government Media and Information Center (GMIC) at the time of his death.
In late July, Taliban thugs filmed their kidnapping of prominent internet comedian Nazar Mohammad, shortly before killing him. Images of his bullet-ridden body hanging from a tree later appeared on social media. Though the Taliban initially denied involvement in his death, they later claimed his jokes against Taliban prisoners motivated the execution.