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Taliban forces disperse women's rights protesters by firing into air

Afghan teachers hold placads during a protest near the main entrance of the Ministry of Education in Kabul, Afghanistan, on March 26. Women gathered again to protest for their rights Saturday. File Photo by Stringer/EPA-EFE
Afghan teachers hold placads during a protest near the main entrance of the Ministry of Education in Kabul, Afghanistan, on March 26. Women gathered again to protest for their rights Saturday. File Photo by Stringer/EPA-EFE

Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Taliban forces fired into the air Saturday to break up a demonstration staged by dozens of women protesting for rights, one year after the militant group retook power in Afghanistan.

Some 40 women gathered in Kabul, calling for "bread, work and freedom" and chanting "we want political participation" and "no to enslavement," BBC News reported.

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Taliban security forces also seized cellphones from the protesters during the protest. No injuries were reported in the interaction.

"They didn't beat us much this time," one unnamed protester told the BBC. "They acted differently than earlier protests. They fired shots in the air. Though we're afraid we came out to advocate for the rights of girls, so that at least the Taliban will open schools for them."

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The women called on the international community to help protect them.

The women carried a banner indicating that the one-year anniversary of the Taliban's rule was a day of solidarity for Afghan women. Though the fundamentalist Islamist political movement vowed to protect women to the extent of religious law during the takeover one year ago, they've gradually imposed new bans and restrictions.

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Women have been banned from sports, most government jobs, education beyond a certain age and traveling more than 45 miles without a male chaperone. The Taliban also ordered women to wear a burqa, covering their full body, including their face.

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One of the protesters, who spoke to NPR on condition of anonymity, said the group wanted it to be known that they don't consent to Taliban rule.

"After a year of this government, there is no change in the situation. We are showing that we won't stay silent," she said. "It's important to show the world that Afghans don't accept this. We will stand against injustice."

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