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A group of women stage a rally calling on the Taliban to ensure women's rights in Afghan society in Kabul on Sept. 4. Photo: Bilal Guler/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Taliban special forces used tear gas, rifle butts and metal clubs to break up a protest in Kabul on Saturday led by Afghan women demanding equal rights, the New York Times reports.

Driving the news: Several of the women participating in Saturday's women's march — the second in two days — told the Times they were beaten by Taliban fighters.

  • "When I tried to resist and continue the march, one of the armed Taliban pushed me and hit me with a sharp metal device,” a woman whose first name is Nargis told the Times.
  • The march began peacefully, with protesters placing a wreath outside Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry to honor Afghan soldiers who died fighting the Taliban, the Associated Press reports.
  • As protesters marched toward the presidential palace, their calls grew louder as they demanded human rights from Taliban leaders.
  • When the group neared the presidential palace, however, a dozen Taliban special forces officers entered into the crowd and fired shots into the air and used other tools to suppress the protest.

The big picture: The Taliban have offered vague assurances that their leadership changed, saying that girls can go to school and women can go to work, Axios' Dave Lawler reports.

  • But many Afghans, particularly women, are skeptical of the Taliban's promises and worry that the group will return to the tight grip under which it ruled in the 1990s, when women's freedoms were restricted and other human rights were limited.

What they're saying: "They pushed everybody away and forced us to leave while chasing us with their spray, weapons and metal devices," Nargis said. "The Taliban kept cursing, using abusive language."

  • Farhat Popalzai, a 24-year-old university student, said she demonstrated for the women who may be too afraid to protest.
  • "I am the voice of the women who are unable to speak," said Popalzai, per AP. "They think this is a man’s country but it is not, it is a woman’s country too."

Go deeper: What Taliban rule will look like in the new old Afghanistan

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details.

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Nov 25, 2021 - Sports

Special report: Women's soccer stares down change

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The next few months could be among the most important in American women's soccer history, with significant change on the horizon for both the NWSL and USWNT.

The big picture: Collective bargaining agreements tend to be tedious, and lawsuits can drag on. But as 2022 approaches, that's where the action is.

2 hours ago - World

Report: LGBTQ+ Afghans' lives "dramatically worsened" under Taliban rule

Taliban fighters in Kabul, Afghanistan, earlier this month. Photo: Mohd Rasfan/AFP via Getty Images

LGBTQ+ Afghans have been threatened, attacked and "faced an increasingly desperate situation and grave threats to their safety" since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan last August, per a report published Wednesday.

What they're saying: "We spoke with LGBT Afghans who have survived gang rape, mob attacks, or have been hunted by their own family members who joined the Taliban, and they have no hope that state institutions will protect them," per a statement from study co-author J. Lester Feder.

4 hours ago - World

Canadian Indigenous group finds 93 suspected unmarked graves

A makeshift memorial honoring the 215 children whose remains were found in a mass grave in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, last May. Photo: Cole Burston/AFP via Getty Images

Indigenous leaders in Canada's western province of British Columbia said Tuesday they believe they've found 93 unmarked graves near a former boarding school.

The big picture: Hundreds of mass graves have been found at the grounds of former residential schools for Indigenous children since last May, when the remains of 215 children were uncovered at one such site in B.C.