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Taliban victory celebration leaves 17 dead

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At least 17 people have been killed in celebratory gunfire in Kabul after Taliban sources said their fighters seized control of Panjshir, the last province in Afghanistan holding out against the Islamist group.

Leaders of opposition to the Taliban have denied that the province has fallen.

The Shamshad news agency said “aerial shooting” in Kabul on Friday killed 17 people and wounded 41. Tolo news agency gave a similar toll.

At least 14 people were injured in celebratory firing in Nangarhar province east of the capital, said Gulzada Sangar, spokesman for an area hospital in the provincial capital of Jalalabad.

The gunfire drew a rebuke from the main Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid.

“Avoid shooting in the air and thank God instead,” Mujahid said in a message on Twitter.

“Bullets can harm civilians, so don’t shoot unnecessarily.”

The fight goes on

Meanwhile, the leader of a resistance faction against Taliban militants in Afghanistan say they will continue fighting.

“We will never give up the fight for God, freedom and justice,” the leader of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, Ahmad Massoud, wrote on his official Facebook page.

Massoud’s tweet came in apparent response to unconfirmed reports that Panjshir had been captured and resistance leaders had fled the country.

In a video message late on Friday, the country’s former First Vice President Amrullah Saleh – who says he is currently residing in his home province of Panjshir – said that resistance against the Taliban is continuing.

For around five days, there has been heavy fighting between the Taliban and National Resistance Front fighters around Panjshir valley. Brief talks for a peaceful solution failed.

The Taliban has offered Massoud a position within their government, but he has rejected it, according to Fahim Dashti, a spokesman for the resistance organisation.

The group is demanding the fair political participation of all ethnic groups as well as the protection of women’s rights, freedom of speech, and elections.

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