Taliban Fighters Crush a Women’s Protest Amid Flickers of Resistance

“The situation is difficult,” he said. “We have been under invasion of the Taliban. We have held ground. We have resisted. The resistance is not going to surrender, and it is not going to bow to terrorism.”

He told the BBC that rumors of a Taliban victory were “baseless.” But he admitted that conditions in the valley were difficult, with the Taliban having cut off phone, internet and electricity lines.

It was not possible, from competing reports from the two sides, to get a precise assessment of their respective military positions. Analysts have said that the rebels’ chief aim for the moment is to hold off the Taliban until late October when mountain snows will preclude military operations, giving them five months or so to restock arms and perhaps gain outside help.

Reports that the Panjshir Valley had fallen Friday night touched off bursts of celebratory Taliban gunfire in the capital, killing at least two. The Taliban’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, later criticized the gunfire and called on fighters to “thank God instead.”

Mr. Mujahid is likely to be named information minister in a new Afghan government whose composition has been the subject of rumors for days. The naming of the new ruling structure was delayed yet again on Saturday, but it appeared increasingly likely that it would include only figures from the Taliban movement. That would contradict early suggestions that the group would reach outside its ranks in an effort to appear inclusive.

The local branch of ISIS, Islamic State-Khorasan, or ISIS-K, blamed for the deadly airport bombing in Kabul last month, continued to create problems for the Taliban. A senior official of a prominent Western aid agency in Kunduz reported a number of killings of Taliban members in the last week of August, apparently by ISIS-K members, and even the raising of an ISIS-K flag, later taken down.

Pakistan, whose intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, or I.S.I., has provided funding and sanctuary to Taliban leadership for two decades, showed its hand Saturday. Both the Afghan and Pakistani news media reported that the head of the I.S.I., Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, flew into the Afghan capital for talks.

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