Speed Reads

'utterly bizarre'

CNN's Clarissa Ward interviews Taliban fighters in Kabul streets: 'They've just told me to stand to the side because I'm a woman'

With Afghanistan now effectively under Taliban control, following a breakneck offensive that shocked many, CNN's Clarissa Ward described the scene in the country's capital as "utterly bizarre."

"[The Taliban are] just chanting 'death to America' but they seem friendly at the same time. It's utterly bizarre," said Ward in a segment with New Day. Earlier, she described the militant group as "smiling and victorious" following their seizure of Kabul, which they were able to secure handily, in just "a matter of hours." "Nobody should worry," said a Taliban commander to Ward. "America already spent enough time in Afghanistan — they need to leave. They already lost lots of lives and lots of money." 

Ward said those out on the street are "mainly" Taliban, and that there are notably "far fewer women" roaming about than normal. In fact, Ward said she herself was asked to step back. "They've just told me to stand to the side because I'm a woman."

However, she qualified for New Day co-host John Berman that while many Afghans are afraid of the Taliban, the group does have a "bizarre sort of mystique," and some "genuinely see them as heroes." "It's a very odd cocktail that you find on the streets of Kabul," Ward added, "with so many people hiding, and other people peeking out to see what comes next, and nobody really knowing what on Earth to expect."

Co-host Brianna Keilar then asked Ward to detail the evacuation opportunities for frightened Afghans, to which Ward replied, "There's definitely no plan in place to try to evacuate these people safely."

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