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Taliban disperse protests in Kabul, other cities

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Video footage from the scene shows people running to safety, while heavy gunfire can be heard in the background. Thousands of protesters took to the streets on Tuesday to demand women’s rights and denounce Taliban rule.

Protesters also chanted anti-Pakistan slogans, as many believe neighbouring Pakistan supports the Taliban, which the country denies.The demonstrations come one day after the leader of the resistance forces, Ahmad Massoud, called for a “national uprising” against the Taliban.

A video sent to the BBC shows Taliban fighters firing their guns into the air – a move the group banned last week after several people were reported killed after celebratory aerial fire.

Some journalists were prevented from filming at the rally, and Afghanistan’s Tolo News agency reported that its cameraman was arrested along with some other local and foreign media workers.

Women have been protesting for the past week, but on Tuesday men also joined their calls for equality and safety. Many observers had commented that there were no men at the previous women-led rallies.

Many people in Afghanistan blame neighbouring Pakistan for the Taliban’s return to power, and protesters chanted “death to Pakistan” and “we don’t want a Pakistani puppet government” at Tuesday’s protest.

Pakistan has long been accused by the United States and elsewhere of providing support for the militants.On Monday, there were unconfirmed reports that Pakistan had helped the Taliban by using drones to bomb Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley – where fighting continues between militant fighters and resistance forces. Pakistan military spokesperson Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar denied this.

“Pakistan has nothing to do with what is happening inside Afghanistan, be it Panjshir or anywhere else,” he told the BBC.

The Taliban have declared victory over the province of Panjshir northeast of the capital Kabul, the final pocket of territory which has remained outside their rule.

The group posted footage online of their fighters raising their flag there on Monday.

Resistance fighters however said they were still present in “all strategic positions” and “continue to fight”.

Their leader has called for a “national uprising” against the Taliban.

In an audio recording posted on social media Ahmad Massoud, leader of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF), blamed the international community for legitimising the Taliban and giving them military and political confidence.

“Wherever you are, inside or outside, I call on you to begin a national uprising for the dignity, freedom and prosperity of our country,” he said.

The Taliban took control of the rest of Afghanistan three weeks ago, seizing the capital Kabul on 15 August following the collapse of the Western-backed government.

It comes nearly 20 years after US forces led an invasion to topple the Taliban.

Panjshir, a rugged mountain valley, is home to between 150,000 and 200,000 people. It was a centre of resistance when Afghanistan was under Soviet occupation in the 1980s and during the Taliban’s previous period of rule, between 1996 and 2001.(BBC)

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