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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Afghanistan: ‘All female staff have left my Kabul hotel’


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Afghans are going back to work and there are more cars on the streets, but people’s behaviour is starting to change in Kabul two days after the Taliban takeover.

Last night, a group of 28 Taliban men came into my hotel, armed with guns, and asked for food. The staff were nervous.

“Look. We need to secure this place,” the hotel’s security manager said. “Anybody could come with a gun and claim to be a Taliban, it could be a looter or a thief. So, why don’t you just let us know who’s with you, so we know who’s Taliban and who is not. You know better than us.”

Of course, all the men got fed. Later on I tried to order something from room service, but the staff said the Taliban had finished it all.

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A couple of days ago, they were the enemy. There were uniformed guards in and around the hotel who were supposed to protect us from the Taliban.

Now the Taliban are here: standing outside with guns, opening the doors of cars.

From what I can see, the male staff at the hotel haven’t shaved in the last three days. And all the female staff have gone. At the reception, room service, the cleaners – women are no longer here.

The background music at the hotel has also stopped. I asked one of the staff, who replied: “Friends are here, so no more music.”

It’s much busier in the city than yesterday. There is much more traffic, a few more shops are open, and people are doing their usual jobs.

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There have been no reports of violence in the city – no sound of gunfire or helicopters. I can hear a few military jets flying high over the city.

I can see the Taliban presence has increased. Fighters have come from different areas of Afghanistan, the majority of them from Logar province south of the capital. They say they are here to keep order.

The ones I have seen are behaving nicely with people. Sometimes they even ask if you are alright, or if you need help with anything.

I spoke with two street vendors in the centre on Tuesday. As poor Afghans, they said it didn’t make any difference to them whether it was the Taliban or Americans in charge.

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An unverified Facebook video went viral on Tuesday, showing women with heads covered protesting on a street in the city. They have placards in their hands, demanding a share in politics, education, human rights, and to be treated like equal citizens. I haven’t heard any reports that they were arrested.

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