It was a sign of the sudden and startling new order in Afghanistan after the terrorist group swept into the capital nearly a month ago and threw out the crumbling, U.S.-backed government it had fought for 20 years.
The Taliban now run Pul-e-Charkhi Prison, a sprawling complex on Kabul’s eastern outskirts. After capturing the city, the fighters freed all the inmates there, the government guards fled, and now dozens of Taliban fighters are running the facility.
The commander, who refused to give his name, was on a personal visit to the complex with a group of his friends. He told The Associated Press he had been arrested around a decade ago in eastern Kunar province and was brought to Pul-e-Charkhi, bound and blindfolded.
Many Afghans as well as governments around the world have been alarmed by the swift Taliban seizure of power, fearing the movement will impose a similar, harsh rule as they did during their first time ruling in the 1990s. But for the Taliban fighters, it’s a moment to savor a victory after years of grueling fighting — and to see a city few of them have entered since the war began.
Some of the Taliban now guarding the site were former inmates. The government guards have fled and don’t dare return, fearing reprisals. Though the facility remains largely empty, one section holds around 60 people imprisoned in the past few weeks, who the guards said were mostly accused criminals and drug addicts.