Photo: KabulNow

Taliban Shooting at Protestors in Badakhshan Kills Three

VANCOUVER, CANADA – After weeks of protest and Taliban’s efforts to quell it, the unrest in Badakhshan still continues. Reports show that the Taliban opened fire today at civilians who had gathered in poppy fields to protest the regime’s destruction of the harvest.  At least three were killed and 13 more sustained injuries in Argo district.     

Local sources told KabulNow that clashes erupted between Taliban anti-drug forces and villagers in the ‘Barlas’ village this morning, May 13, as tensions escalated over the destruction of opium poppy crops.

Following the shooting, residents continued their protest against the Taliban. Video footage obtained by KabulNow captures the Taliban firing at the protesters. Some videos show the transportation of injured demonstrators out of the scene.

Local sources say that the gathering of villagers in Barlas continues.

People’s sources in Badakhshan say that the Taliban have detained 50 protesters from the ‘Argo’ district of this province and transferred them to the city of Fayzabad.

According to sources, Taliban forces, after today’s protest by the residents of the ‘Birlas’ village in Argo district, went to this village with military vehicles and detained the protesters.

Sources say that the fate of these individuals is still unknown.

Updates indicate the Taliban have detained 50 protesters from the Argo district of this province and transferred them to the city of Fayzabad. The Taliban’s media office in Badakhshan confirmed the detention of some protesters but did not specify the number of detainees.

In an official statement, the Taliban faction explained that residents of Barlas village in Argo district had organized demonstrations to prevent the destruction of poppy fields, allegedly by inciting ‘opportunistic’ individuals.

Mohabbatullah Hamed, the leader of this Taliban faction, mentioned that ‘several’ individuals from the protesting group have been apprehended. Meanwhile, the process of destroying poppy fields in Argo district persists.

Local sources also say that during the people’s protest in Argo district, the Taliban disrupted telecommunication networks

The Taliban authorities in the province earlier sent out a press release saying that the local protest against the destruction of opium fields ended with the arrest of several instigators of the protest. The statement said that “the situation has returned to normal.”

Previously, similar incidents occurred in the villages of ‘Gandeh Cheshmeh’ in Argo district and in Darayim district, where Taliban forces opened fire on local populations during opium poppy eradication, prompting protests from residents in these areas.

The protests began on May 4 after the Taliban opened fire on the people protesting the destruction of their fields. One person was killed and five others were injured in the initial clash in Argo district.

People in Badakhshan, populated predominantly by Tajiks and Uzbeks, say that the Taliban have excluded non-Pashtuns from the local government and the destruction of their poppy fields is a way to oppress them by taking away their livelihood.

In a video obtained by KabulNow, residents were seen protesting against the Taliban, welding sticks and clubs.

After weeks of unrest, the Taliban sent a delegation from Kabul led by Fasihuddin Fetrat, the Taliban army’s Chief of Personnel, who is a Tajik and a native of Badakhshan. Mr. Fetrat, however, stopped in Faizabad, short of meeting the protestors, and instead sent a smaller delegation led by the group’s deputy governor to Argo and Darayim districts.

On May 8, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid announced the resolution of the issue concerning the eradication of poppy fields in Badakhshan province.

In a post on X, Mujahid reported a meeting held by the group’s delegation in Fayzabad, the capital of Badakhshan, with religious scholars and community elders, including representatives from Darayim and Argo districts, where locals made a commitment to support the eradication efforts without obstruction.

The demonstrations in Badakhshan, although for murky causes, is one of the rare instances of sustained public protest against the Taliban regime in the past three years since the group’s return to power. The key question remains whether incidents such as those in Badakhshan mean the Taliban’s iron grip on power is no more taken seriously by the people.