Taliban Fighters Crush a Women’s Protest Amid Flickers of Resistance

Taliban fighters violently suppressed a ladies’s protest Saturday in Kabul, whereas 70 miles to the north ex-Afghan military and militia members battled the Islamist group in Panjshir Province, as pockets of anti-Taliban resistance continued to flare up.

Several of the ladies, who have been demanding inclusion within the yet-to-be named Taliban authorities, mentioned they have been crushed by Taliban fighters — some of the primary concrete proof of harsh remedy of ladies by the group.

Since they swept to energy final month the Taliban leaders have been on a “charm offensive” in search of to persuade the world, assist teams and their very own inhabitants that the tough rule they imposed of their final stint in energy, from 1996 to 2001, was a factor of the previous. But there was little restraint in proof on the Kabul protest.

A 24-year-old participant mentioned in a phone interview that the Taliban tried to rout the gathering of about 100 ladies utilizing tear fuel, rifle butts and steel golf equipment or instruments. She mentioned she acquired 5 stitches to shut a head wound after she was knocked unconscious with a blow from one of the steel objects.

“When I tried to resist and continue the march, one of the armed Taliban pushed me and hit me with a sharp metal device,” mentioned the lady, who the Times is figuring out solely by her first identify, Nargis, to protect towards retribution.

“They pushed everybody away and forced us to leave while chasing us with their spray, weapons and metal devices,” mentioned Nargis. “The Taliban kept cursing, using abusive language.” Video of the incident on Afghan information media retailers confirmed a bearded Taliban member, surrounded by gunmen, exhorting the ladies to disperse by way of a megaphone, which was then snatched from his hand by one of the ladies.

On Friday evening the Taliban pushed additional into the Panjshir Valley in an effort to crush resistance led by Ahmad Massoud, son of the legendary resistance commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, who held off the Taliban 25 years in the past. An Italian assist group, Emergency, which operates a hospital within the valley, mentioned on Twitter that the Taliban had reached the village of Anabah, inside Panjshir Province.

A Taliban fighter close to the doorway to the Sarai Shahzada foreign money trade in Kabul on Saturday, which reopened for the primary time because the Taliban took management of the nation. Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

In a video he despatched to the BBC, one other of the rebels’ leaders, a former vice chairman, Amrullah Saleh, acknowledged that his forces are beneath assault however vowed that they’d not give up.

“The situation is difficult,” he mentioned. “We have been under invasion of the Taliban. We have held ground. We have resisted. The resistance is not going to surrender, and it is not going to bow to terrorism.”

He advised the BBC that rumors of a Taliban victory have been “baseless.” But he admitted that situations within the valley have been troublesome, with the Taliban having minimize off cellphone, web and electrical energy traces.

It was not potential, from competing stories from the 2 sides, to get a exact evaluation of their respective navy positions. Analysts have mentioned that the rebels’ chief intention for the second is to carry off the Taliban till late October when mountain snows will preclude navy operations, giving them 5 months or so to restock arms and maybe achieve outdoors assist.

Reports that the Panjshir Valley had fallen Friday evening touched off bursts of celebratory Taliban gunfire within the capital, killing no less than two. The Taliban’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, later criticized the gunfire and known as on fighters to “thank God instead.”

Mr. Mujahid is more likely to be named info minister in a new Afghan authorities whose composition has been the topic of rumors for days. The naming of the brand new ruling construction was delayed but once more on Saturday, however it appeared more and more probably that it could embody solely figures from the Taliban motion. That would contradict early ideas that the group would attain outdoors its ranks in an effort to look inclusive.

The native department of ISIS, Islamic State-Khorasan, or ISIS-Ok, blamed for the lethal airport bombing in Kabul final month, continued to create issues for the Taliban. A senior official of a distinguished Western assist company in Kunduz reported a quantity of killings of Taliban members within the final week of August, apparently by ISIS-Ok members, and even the elevating of an ISIS-Ok flag, later taken down.

Pakistan, whose intelligence company, Inter-Services Intelligence, or I.S.I., has supplied funding and sanctuary to Taliban management for 20 years, confirmed its hand Saturday. Both the Afghan and Pakistani information media reported that the pinnacle of the I.S.I., Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, flew into the Afghan capital for talks.

At the reopened cash trade, merchants bemoaned the nation’s faltering economic system. Government staff are unable to get to their workplaces and are going unpaid, they mentioned, whereas money is more and more scarce and costs are rising sharply.

The reopened foreign money trade in Kabul on Saturday.Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

“People are facing challenges,” mentioned Haji Ghulam Hazrat, a cash dealer on the trade. “Most of the people were government employees,” he mentioned, referring to his prospects, “and now they are jobless and at home,” Mr. Hazrat added: “In the last 12 days there have been no transactions, and people were unable to shop.”

With the aid-dependent nation’s economic system in free-fall — almost 80 p.c of the earlier authorities’s price range got here from overseas assist that has been minimize off — the United Nations has convened a “high-level ministerial humanitarian meeting” in Geneva on Sept. 13 to attraction for assist. Nearly half the nation is “malnourished,” mentioned the U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator in Afghanistan, Ramiz Alakbarov. Nearly half of all kids beneath the age of 5 are predicted to be acutely malnourished within the subsequent 12 months, the U.N. mentioned.

Still, there have been indicators of a creeping return to a form of normality, as home flights resumed and the U.N.’s humanitarian flights restarted. Two money switch businesses, Western Union and MoneyGram, reopened for enterprise, a very important step for a nation with a massive diaspora.

But for all of the hints of resumption of every day life, there have been as many who bespoke a future in Afghanistan very totally different from the quick previous. The violent suppression of the ladies’s demonstration was one of them.

Saturday’s marchers had needed to “pay our respect to those soldiers” who had fought for the now-defunct republic, mentioned one of the protesters, a feminine ex-Afghan military firm commander, in a phone interview. But after inserting flowers on the former Defense Ministry “we were surrounded by armed Taliban from all sides,” mentioned the lady, who the Times is figuring out solely by her first identify, Rukhshana.

“They asked us to leave and stop the protest,” she mentioned. “Some of the Taliban beat us.”

“They treated us like animals,” Rukhshana added.

“We were only launching a simple protest,” she mentioned. “We wanted to ask for our rights through this rally and show that we exist. We have worked hard, we have studied and struggled, offered sacrifices, lost our husbands,” she mentioned.

She vowed to maintain on protesting. “We will continue our struggle until we get our rights back in this government. They took over our country by the force of their weapons.”

Reporting was contributed by Sami Sahak, Wali Arian, Victor Blue, Jim Huylebroek and Rick Gladstone.