By Emmanuel Nduka
Taliban fighters on Sunday fired pepper spray at a group of women protesters in Afghanistan’s capital who were demanding rights to work and education, three demonstrators told AFP.
The Taliban group since seizing control of the country by force in August, have imposed creeping restrictions on Afghans, especially on women.
At least 20 women gathered in front of Kabul University, chanting “equality and justice” and carried banners that read “Women’s rights, human rights”, an AFP correspondent reported.
The protest however was later dispersed by the Taliban fighters who arrived at the scene in several vehicles, three women protesters told AFP.
“When we were near Kabul University three Taliban vehicles came, and fighters from one of the vehicles used pepper spray on us.
“My right eye started to burn. I told one of them ‘shame on you’, and then he pointed his gun at me,” said a protester, who asked not to be named for security reasons.
Two others said that one of the women had to be taken to hospital after the spray caused an allergic reaction to her eyes and face.
An AFP correspondent saw a fighter confiscate a mobile phone of a man who was filming the demonstration.
The Taliban group have banned unsanctioned protests and frequently intervened to forcefully break up rallies demanding rights for women.
They have also blocked women public sector employees from returning to work, many secondary schools have still not reopened for girls, and public universities are shut.
Long distance trips for women who are not accompanied by a close male relative have been banned, while guidelines that prevent television channels from broadcasting serials featuring women actors have been enforced.