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Taliban announces new Afghan government with leading roles given to top members

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Taliban announces new Afghan government with leading roles given to top members

The Taliban has announced an interim government for Afghanistan, with top positions going to members who have ruled the group for the past two decades.

Interim prime minister Mullah Hasan Akhund had headed the Taliban government in Kabul during the last years of its rule in the early 2000s.

Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar will be the deputy leader.

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Mullah Yaqub, the son of the Taliban founder and late supreme leader Mullah Omar, was named defense minister, while the position of the interior minister was given to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the feared Haqqani network who also doubled up as a Taliban deputy leader.

There is no evidence of non-Taliban members in the lineup, a big demand of the international community.

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The announcement of cabinet appointments was made by Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid.

Taliban announces new Afghan government with leading roles given to top members

Taliban announces new government with leading roles given to top members

Earlier, the Taliban fired into the air to disperse protesters and arrested several journalists in the capital.

This is the second time in less than a week the group used heavy-handed tactics to break up a demonstration in Kabul.

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The demonstrators had gathered outside the Pakistan embassy to accuse Islamabad of aiding the Taliban’s assault on the northern Panjshir province.

The Taliban said they seized the province – the last one not under their control – after their blitz through Afghanistan last month.

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Afghanistan’s previous government routinely accused Pakistan of aiding the Taliban, a charge Islamabad has denied.

Former vice president Amrullah Saleh, one of the leaders of the anti-Taliban forces, has long been an outspoken critic of neighboring Pakistan.

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Dozens of women were among the protesters on Tuesday. Some of them carried signs bemoaning the killing of their sons by Taliban fighters they say were aided by Pakistan.

One sign read: “I am a mother – when you kill my son you kill a part of me.”

On Saturday, Taliban special forces in camouflage gear fired their weapons into the air to end a protest march in the capital by women demanding equal rights from the new rulers.

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The Taliban again moved quickly and harshly to end Tuesday’s protest when it arrived near the presidential palace. They fired their weapons into the air and arrested several journalists covering the demonstration.

In one case, the Taliban waving Kalashnikov rifles took a microphone from a journalist and began beating him with it, breaking the microphone. The journalist was later handcuffed and detained for several hours.

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“This is the third time I have been beaten by the Taliban covering protests,” he told The Associated Press. “I won’t go again to cover a demonstration. It’s too difficult for me.”

A journalist from Afghanistan’s popular TOLO News was detained for three hours by the Taliban before being freed along with his equipment and the of the demonstration still intact.

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There was no immediate comment from the Taliban.

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