Taliban soldiers with guns.
Taliban fighters stand guard at a checkpoint that was previously manned by American troops near the US embassy, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, August 17, 2021.
AP Photo
  • The Taliban set up checkpoints in Kabul, restricting access to the airport, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • Residents' smartphones are being inspected for communications in English.
  • Militants continue to search offices and homes of Afghans affiliated with Western governments and organizations.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The Taliban have strengthened their grip on Afghanistan's capital city by setting up checkpoints around Kabul, where residents' smartphones are being searched for any signs of communications in English, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Tuesday.

Taliban forces have searched Afghans' phones for any sign of illicit material, according to the report.

Meanwhile, Taliban fighters are also searching the offices and homes of Afghans who have affiliations with Western governments or organizations. Many Afghans are racing to erase past online lives, scrubbing their phones for evidence of a more secular lifestyle over the last 20 years.

The Taliban have also set up checkpoints at entrances to Kabul's airport, where they have whipped and beat Afghans who tried to cross to make an escape, the Wall Street Journal report said.

The Journal reported that some evacuation flights were leaving near-empty, as a result of the new checkpoints. A German military A400M Airbus – which has a capacity of over 100 passengers – took off with just seven onboard on Tuesday.

The insurgent group's control of the city comes as the airport reopened for military and civilian flights after two days of chaos as people try to flee the country.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on Tuesday spoke at the group's first press conference since taking control of the country, saying the Taliban is "committed to the rights of women under the system of Sharia law," while adding that women can work and study "within our frameworks."

Many are skeptical.

No one knows for sure what the Taliban's rule will look like this time around, but before the US-led invasion in 2001 ousted the group from power, the group enforced strict rules - especially for women, who, during the Taliban's 1996-2001 rule, were barred from attending school and work. Taliban militants have reportedly attacked civilians in other parts of the nation since their recent takeover, including a woman who was beaten to death after she refused to cook meals for the fighters.

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