Facing the challenge of morphing from insurgents to rulers, the Taliban appear determined to snuff out the Panjshir resistance before announcing who will lead the country in the aftermath of Monday's US troop withdrawal, which was supposed to end two decades of war.
But Panjshir, which held out for nearly a decade against the Soviet Union's occupation and also the Taliban's first rule from 1996-2001, is stubbornly holding out.
Fighters from the so-called National Resistance Front (NRF) -- made up of anti-Taliban militia and former Afghan security forces -- are understood to have stockpiled a significant armory in the valley, around 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Kabul and guarded by a narrow gorge.
- 'Under invasion' –
Celebratory gunfire rang out in the capital Kabul overnight as rumors spread that the valley had fallen, but the Taliban made no official claim Saturday and a resident told AFP by phone that the reports were false.
The Emergency Hospital in Kabul said two people were killed and 20 wounded by the salvos, as the Taliban tweeted a stern admonishment warning its fighters to stop.
"Avoid firing in the air and thank God instead," said chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, tipped to become the new regime's information minister.
"The weapons and bullets given to you are public property. No one has the right to waste them. The bullets can also harm civilians, don't shoot in vain."
In Panjshir, former vice-president Amrullah Saleh, holed out alongside Ahmad Massoud -- the son of legendary anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud -- admitted the perilous position of the NRF.
"The situation is difficult, we have been under invasion," Saleh said in a video message.
Usually known for his sharp Western suits, Saleh was filmed wearing a traditional shalwar kameez tunic and a flat woolen pakol cap favored by Panjshiris.
"The resistance is continuing and will continue," he added.
Taliban and resistance tweets suggested the key district of Paryan had changed hands several times in the last few days, but that also could not be independently verified.