Conflicts & War

Taliban crack down on events marking death anniversary of ‘Lion of Panjshir’

Kabul, Sep 9 (EFE).- Legenadary Afghan warlord Ahmad Shah Massoud, known as the “Lion of Panjshir,” was killed exactly two decades ago in a suicide bombing just two days before the Sep. 11 twin tower attack, ending the biggest resistance to the Taliban regime of the time.

Twenty years later, the new Taliban government on Wednesday did not let the leader’s memory be celebrated publicly.

“We had plans to mark the martyrdom day of our late national hero, but the Taliban did not let us, they don’t let even a small number of people gather on the streets” Azizi Parwani, a supporter of Massoud who used to participate in events marking the occasion every year, told EFE.

Parwani insisted that marking Massoud’s death anniversary was his “right,” but “the Taliban are snatching this right from us and violating their promises that they will respect people’s freedoms.”

In recent decades, thousands of armed followers of the commander, who fought against the Soviet Union in the 1980’s and against the Taliban during their first regime between 1996 and 2001, used to come out on the streets of Kabul in a show of force to mark his death anniversary.

However, these marches often turned violent, with the participants firing in the air and even throwing grenades at their opponents and shooting at their posters, acts which sometimes led to injuries and deaths.

“I think it is a positive change. Every year, thousands of people would take to the streets with arms and would disturb ordinary people’s lives. Several people were killed and injured during the past years by Massoud’s supporters,” political analyst and civil society activist Modaser Islami told EFE.

Taliban spokesperson Bilal Karimi told EFE that “now is not the time for protests,” and that the ruling group has urged citizens “not to protest these days including those (Massoud’s supporters) who were marching through the streets on this day.”

The Taliban had increased their presence on the streets, especially in northern Kabul – where most of Massoud’s followers are concentrated – to prevent gatherings, locals told EFE.

The anniversary comes at a critical time for the movement led by Massoud in the northern Panjshir province, which became the last of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces to fall to the Taliban earlier this week.

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