Officials of the Taliban have broken up a demonstration by dozens of women in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul who were demanding for their rights, including the right to work and to be included in the government.
The women said the Taliban used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse their group as they tried to walk from a bridge to the presidential palace.
According to Afghan media outlet Tolo News, the Taliban claim the protest got out of control.
Saturday’s demonstration is the latest of several protests by women in Kabul and Herat, following the Taliban takeover.
The Taliban have earlier announced women can be involved in government, but not hold ministerial positions.
Many Afghan women fear a return to the way they were treated when the Taliban were previously in power, between 1996 and 2001. Women were forced to cover their faces outside, and harsh punishments were meted out for minor transgressions.
“Twenty-five years ago, when the Taliban came, they prevented me from going to school,” journalist Azita Nazimi told Tolo News.
“After five years of their rule, I studied for 25 years and worked hard. For the sake of our better future, we will not allow this to happen.”
Another demonstrator, Soraya, told Reuters: “They also hit women on the head with a gun magazine, and the women became bloody.”
Clashes have meanwhile continued in the Panjshir Valley, north of Kabul, where resistance fighters have been thwarting efforts by the Taliban to exert control.
But there’s been claim and counter-claim. The Taliban maintain they’ve taken control of two more districts and are heading for the centre of the province.
A spokesman for the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF) said heavy fighting was continuing and thousands of Taliban had been surrounded.
The Panjshir Valley, home to between 150,000 and 200,000 people, was a centre of resistance when Afghanistan was under Soviet occupation in the 1980s and during the Taliban’s previous period of rule.
The NRF’s leader, Ahmad Massoud, praised protests by women in Herat, and said Panjshir continued to resist. (Source: BBC)