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While that was going on in Kabul, some women who had enjoyed the freedom to go to school and take up careers faced the prospect of being forced out of their jobs and back into burqas.
Special Forces commandos, some of whom had carried on the fight to the Taliban to the bitter end, remained in hiding as rumors swirled of executions in other parts of Afghanistan, far from the spotlight of the international press and Afghanistan’s own vibrant and freewheeling media.
The briefing was in the same room a former Afghan government spokesman had used until a week ago. Only the flag and the man behind the microphone were different. The Taliban had killed the spokesman who sat there.
Reporters crammed into a Kabul briefing room on Tuesday for the first news conference with the Taliban’s elusive spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, whose face most of them had never seen. He promised the insurgents would not take reprisals.
The American military restored order on Tuesday at Kabul’s international airport, a day after scenes of chaos and desperation erupted as Afghans tried to flee the country.
Hundreds of people are still at the airport, which is divided into civilian and military sections. The U.S. currently controls both sides of the airport — Kabul’s sole connection to the outside world — with help from Turkish forces. But the Taliban control all the entrances, and there were reports that fighters were stopping people from crossing the perimeter.
No civilian flights are operating, but some countries have been able to evacuate citizens on military flights. Above, Indian citizens prepared to leave Kabul on an Indian military aircraft on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, we got a “glimpse of the efforts the Taliban” is making to win over skeptics. At a news conference, a female reporter asked the first question, a pointed one. And there were reports of girls going to school and women holding a protest.
So far, the Taliban has vowed to respect women’s rights and allow them to work. But, memories of the Taliban’s brutal rule in the 1990s is an ever-present reality for many in Kabul and beyond.
The Taliban have promised to respect women’s rights, and on a Tuesday a small group of women risked their safety to find out what that means: They stood holding signs demanding the right to work and go to school mere feet from armed Taliban fighters, who did not interfere. Had women tried the same thing the last time the Taliban was in power, they would likely have found themselves subjected to beatings, imprisonment and possibly worse.
The new Taliban rulers were making their presence felt, taking over Parliament, confiscating possessions and vehicles from government officials and directing traffic on Kabul’s congested streets. A video showed Taliban fighters driving in what appeared to be police vehicles.
Peddlers were back on the streets of Kabul, and government workers weighed whether to return to work after the Taliban promised amnesty. An Afghan reporter point-blank asked the Taliban spokesman about civilians killed in past suicide attacks carried out by the militants. Another reporter, a woman, interviewed a Taliban official on television.
As the Taliban began to consolidate their grip on Afghanistan on Tuesday, its fighters spreading out across the city on motorbikes and in American-made Humvees seized from the now nonexistent Afghan military, ordinary people began to slowly test the limits of what would be permitted in the restored Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
For the moment, at least, the Taliban appeared to be taking a hands-off approach to the lives of most Afghans, letting them go about their business much as they had before the militants swept across Afghanistan last week. But given the Taliban’s brutal and repressive stint in power in the 1990s, fear was ever-present — as were reports of violence.
The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan on Sunday after a rapid advance across the country, overwhelming government forces and sending large swaths of the population into panic. The Times reviewed and verified scores of these videos to see what that frantic takeover of the country looked like on the ground. Here’s what we found.