The Latest: Taliban flag flies at Afghan presidential palace

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A child holds up a piece of artwork while drawing in a tent at Fort Bliss’ Doña Ana Village, in New Mexico, where Afghan refugees are being housed, Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. The Biden administration provided the first public look inside the U.S. military base where Afghans airlifted out of Afghanistan are screened, amid questions about how the government is caring for the refugees and vetting them. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

KABUL, Afghanistan — A Taliban official said that the group raised their flag over the Afghan presidential palace in a brief ceremony on Saturday — the same day the U.S. and the world marked the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The milestone anniversary takes place just weeks after the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the return to power of the Taliban, the faction that sheltered the al-Qaida terror network founded by Osama bin Laden that carried out the attacks.

The Taliban’s new Prime Minister Mohammad Hasan Akhund raised the flag in a ceremony at 11 a.m. local time to mark the official start of work by the Taliban’s 33-member caretaker government, said Ahmadullahh Muttaqi, multimedia chief of the group’s cultural commission.

Earlier, another Taliban official said the religious militia’s black and white flag was first raised at the palace on Friday. The militant group has also painted their banner on the entry gate to the U.S. Embassy building.

The U.S. is marking the 9/11 anniversary with commemorations at New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

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KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban shot dead the brother of Amrullah Saleh, the former vice president of Afghanistan, and his driver in northern Panjshir province, Saleh’s nephew said Saturday.

Shuresh Saleh said his uncle Rohullah Azizi was going somewhere in a car Thursday when Taliban fighters stopped him at a checkpoint. “As we hear at the moment Taliban shot him and his driver at the checkpoint.” he said.

A message left with a Taliban spokesman Saturday was not immediately returned.

Shuresh Saleh said it was unclear where his uncle, an anti-Taliban fighter, was headed when the Taliban caught him. He said phones were not working in the area.

Amrullah Saleh led forces resisting the Taliban in Panjshir, which was the last holdout province to be overrun by Afghanistan’s new rulers.

Videos circulating on social media purportedly show Taliban opening fire on anti-Taliban fighters in Panjshir whom they have arrested.

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MORE ON AFGHANISTAN:

— US gives 1st public look inside base housing Afghans

— UN raises alarm on Taliban crackdown on dissent, journalists

— Pentagon chief: al-Qaida may seek comeback in Afghanistan

— Analysis: Taliban hard-line pathworsens Afghanistan dilemma

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— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/afghanistan

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KABUL, Afghanistan — More than 250 foreign nationals have left Afghanistan in the past three days, says Zalmay Khalilzad, Washington’s special envoy and the architect of an often criticized deal with the Taliban.

The deal signed last year provided for the safe withdrawal of U.S and NATO troops but say his critics was heavily weighted in favor of the hardline-Islamic movement.

In a series of tweets Khalilzad praised both the Middle Eastern State of Qatar, whose national airline carried out the flights and the “Taliban’s cooperation in this important effort,” for the recent departure of foreign nationals from Afghanistan.

“We will continue to engage the government of Qatar, the Taliban, and others to ensure the safe passage of our citizens, other foreign nationals, and Afghans that want to leave,” Khalilzad tweeted.

However, hundreds of Afghans, including U.S. citizens and green card holders, remain stranded in northern Afghanistan’s Mazar-e-Sharif waiting to be evacuated but stopped by Taliban rulers demanding travel documents.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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