Taliban members will no longer be allowed to carry their weapons in amusement parks in Afghanistan, the group’s spokesman said on Wednesday, in what appeared to be another effort by the country’s new rulers to soften their image.
Taliban men, many of whom have spent most of their lives in a 20-year insurgency against a US-backed government, flocked to amusement parks in Afghan cities and towns after they took over in August.
“Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate are not allowed to enter amusement parks with weapons, military uniforms and vehicles,” the main Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said on Twitter.
“(They) are obliged to abide by all the rules and regulations of amusement parks.”
The Taliban earned a reputation as uncompromising and often brutal enforcers of their strict ways then they last ruled, between 1996 and 2001.
But since taking over in August, they have tried to present a more moderate face to their fellow Afghans and to the wider world, as an interim cabinet grapples with a looming humanitarian crisis.
Of particular attraction for Taliban members was one of Kabul’s largest amusement parks and a waterside park at the Qargha reservoir, in the city’s western outskirts.
Taliban men clutching automatic rifles queued for up carousel and swinging pirate ship rides – with regular visitors looking on nervously.
Most of the members Reuters spoke to then had never been to Kabul until the Taliban took control of the capital on August 15, and some were eager to visit the amusement park before returning to duties around the country.