Taliban militants take boat rides in Afghan national park
Taliban militants have been photographed carrying RPGs and assault rifles while riding paddle boats in a national park in central Afghanistan.
The images, which emerged on Saturday on social media, showed the militants paddling colourful swan boats in the striking blue lakes of the oasis at Band-e Amir National Park - once a hotspot for international travellers and domestic tourists.
The park contains a series of six deep blue lakes situated in the Hindu Kush mountains, roughly 45 miles from Bamiyan - formerly the home of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, which the Taliban destroyed in 2001.
The images marked a stark contrast to the violence and chaos that engulfed the country after the group's takeover of the capital Kabul last month.
Not sure why one would bring a rocket launcher with him onto a pedal boat, but here are a bunch of Taliban fighters relaxing at Band-e-Amir national park pic.twitter.com/nwtPH8s7fi— Murad Gazdiev (@MuradGazdiev) September 19, 2021
Saturday's images were not the first of their kind - many absurd photographs of the group's members have emerged and gone viral.
Ahead of their Kabul takeover, the militants filmed themselves swanning around in the lavish palace of a US ally. In the clip, the armed militants were seen sat smugly in the oversized golden chairs that belonged to former vice president General Rashid Dostum.
In another video, the militants were recorded riding electric bumper cars and going on a carousel ride at a theme park as thousands of Afghan civilians were desperately attempting to leave the country - some even clinging to a US military plane that left Kabul airport.
Similarly, the militants filmed themselves working out in a deserted gym after seizing control of a building in Afghanistan. In the footage, fighters were seen using a number of exercise machines while another man - carrying a rocket launcher - watched on in amusement.