Taliban soldiers embraced AK-47 and M16 rifles and reunited with their families at the Kabul Zoo, a new experience for many young fighters in rural Afghanistan.
While visitors set up picnic areas in shady fields to enjoy ice cream and salted pomegranate seeds, heavily armed Taliban militants study the habitats of lions, leopards, camels, wolves, ostriches and macaques.
After years of fighting in the countryside, this is the first time many people have entered a big city after capturing the capital, not to mention the zoo.
They take selfies and pose for group photos, but the relative calm is suddenly reversed when someone grabs a deer by the horns and their friends laugh.
Pose with a gun
After the Friday prayers, dozens of armed Taliban fighters – many without weapons – came out wearing traditional hats, turbans and shawls. Some wore eye makeup that was popular with Afghan men.
Abdul Qadir, a 40-year-old Taliban member who now works for the Interior Ministry, said he had been dating a group of male friends.
“I really like the animals, especially the ones found in our country,” he said. “I really like black.”
Asked about the armed presence – which he had never heard of in other zoos around the world – he said the Taliban were in favor of banning the entry of weapons into the area “not to intimidate children or women”.
The zoo has long been a haven for women, children and young people in a capital city where there is no public space for anyone but men.
Six gunmen from the Taliban’s intelligence service – in full military uniforms, filled with ammunition and steel handcuffs – war tape, headgear and knee pads – gathered for a group photo with a mullah wearing a turban.
The photographer in charge adjusts the shot, which is then carefully examined by the group.
A fighter’s approval of the Taliban flag has been published from his magazine bag, indicating their support.
Later, another group of gunmen showed their weapons to eight-year-old boys who were taking pictures on their mobile phones.
There are no guns in the zoo
The masterpiece is a lion, simply called a “white lion”, which sleeps on a roof about 20 meters by 30 meters in circumference.
One of the zoo’s richest residents was Marjan, a male lion who symbolized Afghan survival during coups, attacks, civil wars and early Taliban rule until his death in 2002.
A bronze statue of a large cat, once wounded in a grenade attack, greets visitors as they walk, with a plaque inscribed on its tombstone: He was the most famous lion in the world. “
Another popular attraction is the aquarium and the reptile house, where the women live Nekab and burqa And An obstacle Take care of the girls and boys around the tank.
The snake is wrapped in a large glass enclosure where goldfish, catfish and turtles swim in lined tanks on the walls.
Samir, who is in Kabul, waits to return to London where he lives, with his son and grandson at the zoo.
He says they have had a “very difficult time” since the Taliban came to power in mid-August.
“We did not expect (the Taliban) to come so soon. It’s peaceful in Kabul, but it’s the same, people don’t feel safe. “
Located in the middle of a steep hill and near the Kabul River, it costs Afghans 40 cents to enter the zoo, although some Taliban soldiers enter without paying, apparently ignoring the “no weapons in the zoo” sign.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by the NDTV crew and posted by a syndicated feed.)