Gunfire rang out across Kabul on Tuesday as Taliban fighters fired repeatedly into the air to break up a women’s protest against Pakistan’s alleged involvement in Afghanistan’s conflict.
Videos showed hundreds of women marching through the city’s streets chanting “death to Pakistan”, and later footage showed people fleeing as a large group of Taliban gunmen started firing into the air on mass.
Witnesses said upwards of 300 people, mostly women wearing the hijab, were protesting outside the Pakistan embassy and chanting slogans against the neighbouring country, which has close ties to the Taliban and celebrated the group’s victory last month.
In a video shared by regional news channel Tolo News, protesters are heard shouting “death to Pakistan”, while placards carried during the rally read: “Pakistan, Pakistan, leave Afghanistan”.
No injuries or casualties from the protest have been reported so far.
A journalist working with the local news channel said cameras and other equipment belonging to journalists covering the protest had been confiscated or damaged, while others were ordered by gunmen not to film the proceedings.
Another journalist alleged that the Taliban had taken dozens of women from the scene and detained them in a parking garage to prevent them joining the protests.
The protest was one of the largest since the militant group captured the country from president Ashraf Ghani’s government last month, and came after reports alleging Pakistan was supporting the Taliban in its efforts to conquer the Panjshir valley, the last holdout province in the war-torn country.
Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Bajwa said on Monday that he urged Afghanistan’s leadership to try and amicably resolve all issues needed to form a legitimate government in the country.
General Bajwa also sought the international community’s cooperation for peace in Afghanistan. “We also expect that the world will not abandon the Afghan people at this difficult time,” Bajwa said.
The Taliban says it has taken Panjshir in its entirety, but the resistance movement there says it continues to fight and its leader Ahmad Massoud has called for a national uprising against the Islamist group.
Heavy fighting in Panjshir since the weekend has resulted in losses on both sides, with the resistance losing a key spokesperson and the Taliban seeing the death of Maulvi Fassihuddin, the chief of its opposition in northeast Afghanistan who had played a key role in the Islamist offensive in the region.
The Independent has launched a petition urging the UK government to be more ambitious in its plans to take in Afghan refugees following the Taliban seizing power and withdrawal of western troops.
Afghans are now facing a similar plight. You, our readers, have already shown your strength of feeling in letters and on social media. Here’s a chance to have your voice heard by adding your signature. We thank you for your support.