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In pictures: Taliban parade to show off plundered US hardware

Fighters manned the controls of the multi-purpose trucks previously used by international and Afghan forces.
Published 01 Sep, 2021 09:03pm

A Black Hawk helicopter flew circles over the Taliban's spiritual heartland in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday while below fighters stood aboard captured Humvees as the group paraded its plundered United States military hardware.

The Taliban's victory lap, celebrating the final withdrawal of US troops, follows the group's astonishing two-week takeover that capped a simmering 20-year insurgency.

Taliban supporters gather to celebrate the US withdrawal of all its troops out of Afghanistan, in Kandahar on Wednesday. — Pictures from AFP
Taliban supporters gather to celebrate the US withdrawal of all its troops out of Afghanistan, in Kandahar on Wednesday. — Pictures from AFP

Taliban supporters gather to celebrate the US withdrawal of all its troops out of Afghanistan, in Kandahar, following the Taliban’s military takeover of the country.
Taliban supporters gather to celebrate the US withdrawal of all its troops out of Afghanistan, in Kandahar, following the Taliban’s military takeover of the country.

On the highway towards Afghanistan's second-biggest city of Kandahar, a long line of green armoured fighting vehicles drove in single file down, most with white-and-black Taliban flags attached to aerials.

Fighters manned the controls of the multi-purpose trucks — used by US, Nato and Afghan forces during the two-decade war — while others clambered over the vehicles at Ayno Maina, a town on the outskirts of the city.

Taliban fighters atop Humvee vehicles prepare before parading along a road to celebrate after the US pulled all its troops out of Afghanistan.
Taliban fighters atop Humvee vehicles prepare before parading along a road to celebrate after the US pulled all its troops out of Afghanistan.

Taliban fighters atop Humvee vehicles parade along a road in Kandahar.
Taliban fighters atop Humvee vehicles parade along a road in Kandahar.

Among the light weapons cradled by the fighters were American M16 rifles.

Pick-up trucks laden with supporters rolled past the convoy of military vehicles, some armed with heavy weapons and machine guns.

Taliban fighters stand on an armoured vehicle before parading along a road.
Taliban fighters stand on an armoured vehicle before parading along a road.

At least one Black Hawk helicopter buzzed overhead, suggesting someone from the former Afghan army was at the controls as the Taliban lack qualified pilots.

Read | Junkyard of empires: Afghans sift through leftovers of US occupation

A helicopter displaying a Taliban flag flies above supporters gathered to celebrate the US withdrawal of all its troops out of Afghanistan.
A helicopter displaying a Taliban flag flies above supporters gathered to celebrate the US withdrawal of all its troops out of Afghanistan.

An ethnic Pashtun heartland, Kandahar is the birthplace of the Taliban and where the group rose to power in 1996. By 2001, when US-led forces invaded, the Taliban had seized control of most of the country.

At Kandahar Cricket Ground, hundreds gathered to listen to speeches heaping praise on the Taliban following their successful offensive last month and pouring scorn on the United States.

Elder leaders sat in the shade in the players' dugout, reclining on armchairs behind wooden coffee tables.

Others sat crossed-legged on the grass, while many more gathered in the terrace stands to watch. Armed fighters in camouflage fatigues stood in front of the crowds.

Taliban supporters celebrate the US withdrawal.
Taliban supporters celebrate the US withdrawal.

“Our common enemy who vowed to bring economic prosperity to our land failed to do so,” a Taliban recruiter named Saqeb said.

“They claimed to bring a civilised system. Go and take a look at the airport where all the planes are left in the middle.

“America did not just attack our young military men. America has corrupted our media. It took away our culture. It has trampled our economy.”

Taliban fighters stand on an armoured vehicle in Kandahar.
Taliban fighters stand on an armoured vehicle in Kandahar.

The Taliban's secretive supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada is living in Kandahar, the group said on Sunday, after years in the shadows.

Word had spread that he would make an appearance on Wednesday, but he did not show up, leaving the city's new governor to address the crowd.

In footage posted online of the build-up to the event, another helicopter flew overhead trailing a Taliban flag as fighters in headscarves waved beneath.

A day earlier, thousands of Taliban faithful had poured onto the streets of Kandahar, waving flags and shouting “God is greatest” in celebration of the final US withdrawal.


Header photo: Taliban fighters atop vehicles with Taliban flags parade along a road to celebrate after the US pulled all its troops out of Afghanistan, in Kandahar, on Wednesday. — AFP