taliban: Gun-toting Taliban mingle with families and kids at Kabul Zoo – Times of India

KABUL: Taliban troopers cradling AK-47s and M16 assault rifles mingle amongst families at Kabul Zoo, a novelty expertise for a lot of of the younger fighters from rural Afghanistan.
As guests arrange picnic spots within the shaded grounds, having fun with ice lotions and salted pomegranate seeds, closely armed Taliban gunmen peer into the enclosures housing lions, leopards, camels, wolves, ostriches and macaques.
After years of combating within the countryside, the seize of the capital was the primary time many had entered a big metropolis, not to mention a zoo.
They take selfies and pose for group photographs, however the relative tranquillity is upended immediately when one fighter grabs a deer by its antlers and his associates roar with laughter.
After Friday prayers, scores of armed Taliban fighters end up — and many extra are with out weapons — sporting conventional hats, turbans and shawls. Some sported the attention make-up widespread amongst Afghan males.
One Taliban member, 40-yr-outdated Abdul Qadir, who now works for the interior ministry, stated he was sightseeing with a gaggle of male associates.
“I really like the animals, especially those which can be found in our country,” he says. “I like lions very much.”
Asked in regards to the armed presence — unheard of in different zoos world wide — he says the Taliban had been in favour of barring weapons from the venue in order that “children or women should not feel scared”.
The zoo was lengthy a haven for ladies, kids and younger lovers in a capital that has little public area for anybody however males.
A unit of six armed males from the Taliban’s intelligence directorate — sporting full navy fatigues, fight webbing bursting with ammunition and metal handcuffs, peaked caps and knee pads — huddle for a staff image with a turbaned mullah.
The designated photographer coordinates the shot, which is carefully examined by the group afterwards.
A thumbs-up from one of the fighters, with a Taliban flag poking out of his journal pouch, exhibits their approval.
Later, a special group of gunmen provide their rifles to boys as younger as eight, who take snaps with their cell phones.
The showpiece is a lion, named merely “White Lion”, which sleeps on a deck in its enclosure, measuring about 20 metres by 30 metres.
The zoo’s most-treasured occupant was Marjan, a male lion who was an emblem of Afghan survival dwelling by means of coups, invasions, civil warfare and the Taliban’s first rule, till he died in 2002.
A bronze statue of the large cat, as soon as injured by a grenade assault, greets guests on their method in, whereas a plaque on its grave reads: “Here lies Marjan, who was about 23. He was the most famous lion in the world.”
Another widespread attraction is the aquarium and reptile home, the place girls in niqabs, burqas and hijabs shepherd younger women and boys across the tanks.
A python is coiled up in a big glass enclosure as goldfish, catfish and turtles swim round in tanks lining the partitions.
Samir, who’s in Kabul ready to return to London the place he lives, is at the zoo with his younger son and nephew.
He says they’ve been having “a very hard time” for the reason that Taliban stormed to energy in mid-August.
“We didn’t expect (the Taliban) to come so quickly. It’s quite peaceful in Kabul, but the thing is, the way they are, people don’t feel safe.”
Nestled between steep hills and subsequent to the Kabul River, entry to the zoo prices 40 cents for Afghans, though some Taliban troopers stroll in with out paying, flagrantly disregarding the signal saying “No Guns in the Zoo”.

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