Taliban fire into the air to break up Kabul’s largest street protests yet

Videos from central Kabul showed at least dozens of men and women marching through the streets shouting “Death to Pakistan” as the demonstrators made their way towards the presidential palace.

Some witnesses estimated the crowd at between 300 and 500 people — many of whom were women wearing the hijab.

There were also slogans in favor of the leader of the National Resistance Front (NRF), Ahmad Masoud, who has been leading opposition to the Taliban from the province of Panjshir. On Monday he called for a national uprising against Taliban rule as the militant group claimed victory in the mountainous region, following two weeks of intense fighting with the NRF. The NRF denied that claim, however, with spokesman Ali Nazary telling CNN: “The resistance is still all over the valley.”

In one video from Kabul on Tuesday, a woman is seen to confront a Taliban fighter. Afghan journalist Ahmad Jawid Kargar told CNN that the Taliban detained dozens of women protesting in front of the presidential gate and took them to the basement of the Azizi Bank nearby. CNN has been unable to confirm how many people were detained.

Amid chaotic scenes on the streets, Taliban fighters intervened and shot into the air to disperse the protesters. The videos showed people scattering or crouching down amid sustained bursts of gunfire. There were no initial reports of casualties.

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A number of journalists and cameramen were reported to have been detained, according to Afghan news network TOLO news. Their camera equipment was confiscated by the Taliban, it added. Ariana News, another private TV network based in Kabul, also said that its reporter and cameraman were detained.

Human rights group Amnesty International said in a post on Twitter that it is “deeply concerned about reports on use of violence against peaceful protestors & journalists in Kabul by the Taliban. Exercising right to freedom of peaceful assembly is a human right. Taliban must respect & allow people to exercise their rights.”

Taliban fighters are seen during the protest on Tuesday.

While Human Rights Watch tweeted: “In yet another indication that #Afghanistan’s new rulers will not tolerate peaceful dissent, the Taliban again used force to crush a protest by hundreds of #Afghan women calling for their rights today.”

There have previously been a number of smaller protests in Kabul and other Afghan cities in the last week that have seen female activists call on the Taliban to respect their rights and allow them to participate in government. One protest by women in Kabul was broken up at the weekend.

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