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    Taliban violently disperse rare protest; 1 killed, 6 wounded


    Kabul, Afghanistan — The Taliban violently broke up a protest in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing at least one person as they quashed a rare public show of dissent. The militant group meanwhile met with former officials from the toppled Western-backed government.

    The insurgents’ every action in their sudden sweep to power is being watched closely. They insist they have changed and won’t impose the same draconian restrictions they did when they last ruled Afghanistan, all but eliminating women’s rights, carrying out public executions and harboring al-Qaida in the years before the 9/11 attacks.

    But many Afghans remain deeply skeptical, and the violent response to Wednesday’s protest could only fuel their fears. Thousands are racing to the airport and borders to flee the country. Many others are hiding inside their homes, fearful after prisons and armories were emptied during the insurgents’ blitz across the country.

    Dozens of people gathered in the eastern city of Jalalabad to raise the national flag a day before Afghanistan’s Independence Day, which commemorates the end of British rule in 1919. They lowered the Taliban flag — a white banner with an Islamic inscription — that the militants have raised in the areas they captured.

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