- Protests against Taliban rule spread to more cities across Afghanistan on Thursday.
- Amrullah Saleh, who declared himself the acting president, encouraged the opposition.
- Witnesses and media reported several were killed by Taliban gunshots, Reuters said.
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Protests defying Taliban rule spread to cities across Afghanistan on Thursday.
According to Reuters, witnesses said several people were killed when Taliban fighters opened fire on a crowd in Asadabad, in the eastern province of Kunar.
"Hundreds of people came out on the streets," witness Mohammed Salim told the news outlet.
In Jalalabad, witnesses and media said militants also fired at protesters and killed three, according to the report.
"Salute those who carry the national flag and thus stand for dignity of the nation," said Amrullah Saleh, Afghanistan's former vice president, who declared himself the acting president of the country after former president Ashraf Ghani fled, the report said.
The protests come as many across the country celebrate Afghanistan's Independence Day on Thursday, where crowds in Kabul waved the country's black, red and green flag in the face of Taliban soldiers, who use a white and black flag.
A crowd of men and women waving the national flag in Kabul was seen in videos on social media chanting, "Our flag, our identity," Reuters said.
The militant group, however, used the day to declare the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan," the same name it used during its harsh regime from 1996 to 2001.
Trying to rebrand, the Taliban have sought to ensure people that they are more moderate and less violent than they were in the past, though the claims have been met with significant skepticism.
During a Wednesday protest in Jalalabad, militants opened fire on a protest, killing several. Just the day before, a Taliban spokesperson promised no one in Afghanistan would be harmed.
Scenes of protest and defiance in some cities were matched by scenes of fear and desperation outside the Kabul airport, where massive crowds attempt to make it onto a civilian or military evacuation flight.