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Taliban fire warning shots amid rare women's protest in Afghan capital

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By Euronews  with AFP
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Taliban fighters fire in air to disperse Afghan women protesters in Kabul on August 13, 2022.
Taliban fighters fire in air to disperse Afghan women protesters in Kabul on August 13, 2022.   -   Copyright  Wakil Kohsar/AFP

Taliban fighters fired warning shots to disperse a rare women's protest in Afghanistan's capital of Kabul. 

Dramatic video footage shows armed men firing gunshots into the air, causing demonstrators to flee on Saturday morning. 

Around 40 women chanted 'bread, work and freedom' as they marched in front of Afghanistan's education ministry. 

The protest came just two days before the Taliban marks its first year in power. 

Strict laws regulate women's rights in the country, with limits on their ability to work and have an education, as well as restrictions on travelling alone. 

Demonstrations by women are increasingly rare in Kabul after the Taliban arrested many activists earlier this year. 

On Saturday, the protestors held a banner reading "August 15 is a black day" -- a reference to the date the Taliban took power last year. 

They also chanted "Justice, justice. We're fed up with ignorance" before being violently dispersed by Taliban fighters, who blocked a crossroads in front of the demonstrators and started shooting in the air for several seconds. 

Some women were reportedly beaten after they took refuge in shops. Others claimed to have had their mobile phones confiscated. 

"Unfortunately, the Taliban who were part of the intelligence services came and fired in the air," Zholia Parsi, one of the protest organisers, told AFP. 

"They dispersed the girls, tore down our banners and confiscated many girls' phones," she added.

Protestors remained defiant in the face of Taliban attacks, however. 

One demonstrator, Munisa Mubariz, said she intended to continue struggling for the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan. 

"We will not let the Taliban silence our voices," she said. "We will protest from our homes." 

Demonstrations by women over the erosion of their rights under the Taliban, who swept to power after the chaotic US troop withdrawal in August 2021, have become increasingly rare in the capital. 

Several protestor organisers were arrested at the beginning of the year, with some detained for several weeks. 

This week, a report by Save the Children stated that girls were bearing the biggest brunt of Taliban rule in Afghanistan. 

The study found that girls are more likely than boys to be depressed, hungry and isolated. 

Save the Children reported that almost half of girls in Afghanistan are not attending school, compared with 20% of boys.