Sickening scenes as foreign forces pull out of Afghanistan
'One of the worst places on earth to be a child'
China 'rolling out the red carpet' for the Taliban
Taliban insurgents have tightened their grip on captured Afghan territory with militants controlling more than 65 per cent of the country, according to a European Union official.
The advancements have brought horror to civilians of the Middle Eastern nation, with at least 27 children dead and many forced to hide in their homes as foreign forces continue to pull out after two decades of occupancy.
It comes after reports a woman was shot dead outside her home for wearing tight clothes, and being unaccompanied by a male relative.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid denied the accusations, which were confirmed by police, and said that the group is investigating the August 3 attack, Radio Azadi reported.
During the Taliban's five-year rule until 2001, women were not allowed to work outside, ordered to wear a burqa when leaving the home and must be accompanied by a male relative when doing so. The radio station said civilians revealed a raft of repressive laws were being enforced.
UNICEF concerned about Afghan children
Amid rising conflict between the Taliban and government forces, the UN children's agency UNICEF has called for immediate consideration of children's wellbeing.
"Afghanistan has long been one of the worst places on Earth to be a child but in recent weeks and, indeed, the last 72 hours, that's got a lot worse," Unicef Afghanistan's Samantha Mort told the BBC.
Violence has escalated as US-led troops, including Australian forces, have withdrawn from the country.
Pul-e-Khumri, capital of the northern province of Baghlan, fell to the Taliban on Tuesday evening, according to residents who reported Afghan security forces retreating towards the Kelagi desert, home to a large Afghan army base.
Pul-e-Khumri became the seventh regional capital to come under the control of the Taliban in about a week.
Fears human rights advances to be erased
President Ashraf Ghani called on regional strongmen to support his government, while a UN official said advances made in human rights in the 20 years since the hardline Islamists were ousted from power were in danger of being erased.
More than 400,000 Afghans have been displaced in recent months as a surge in numbers seeking cross-border asylum continues.
In the national capital Kabul, Ghani's aides said he was seeking help from regional militias he has squabbled with for years to defend his government. He had also appealed to civilians to defend Afghanistan's "democratic fabric".
The militants' strategy appears to be to take the north, known to be the most peaceful part of the nation, as well as the main border crossings in the north, west and south, and then close in on capital Kabul.
Taliban forces are believed to be trying to deprive Kabul of its traditional support from national forces in the north, with the government withdrawing forces from hard-to-defend rural districts to focus on holding major population centres.
While supported by a small number of air strikes from the US, the Biden administration has called on the Afghan defence forces to step up to the threat at hand.
"Ultimately, our view is that the Afghan national security defence forces have the equipment, numbers and training to fight back, which will strengthen their position at the negotiating table," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
China 'rolling out the red carpet' for Taliban
However China's position on the Taliban's control over the country vastly differs to the US, with Beijing recognising the group's advances and seeking a productive relationship with its leaders.
In July Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, political chief of the Taliban, met with China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
"The Afghan Taliban is a pivotal military and political force... and is expected to play an important role in peaceful reconciliation and reconstruction in Afghanistan," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian later told reporters.
Torek Farhadi, a former advisor to the Afghan government, told the ABC Beijing was "rolling out the red carpet" for the Taliban.
"The key point here is that with the US exit from the region, there's a void that's being created — and as the region's main superpower, China walks into this void with influence," Mr Farhadi said.
On July 28, 2021, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with the delegation led by Abdul Ghani Baradar, head of Afghan Taliban Political Commission, in Tianjin during Baradar's visit to China. pic.twitter.com/RL3KgCinNW
— Spokesperson发言人办公室 (@MFA_China) July 28, 2021
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