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Taliban fire gunshots to disperse protest outside Pakistan embassy in Kabul

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Afghan women shout slogans next to a Taliban fighter during a rally near the Pakistan embassy in Kabul on September 7, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

The Taliban forces have fired shots into the air to disperse protesters gathered for a rally outside the Pakistan embassy in the capital Kabul.

Scores of people, mostly women, gathered on Tuesday outside the embassy building, holding banners, chanting against the government in Pakistan and accusing Islamabad of meddling in the country’s internal affairs.

Video clips of the protest have emerged showing people running for cover while volleys of gunfire were heard. There has been no immediate report of casualties.

The Taliban on Monday said it will not allow Pakistan or any other country to intervene in Afghanistan’s internal affairs.

Islamabad is known to have had close ties with Taliban leaders in the past. Concerns over Pakistan's interference were revived after reports that Pakistan's intelligence chief Faiz Hameed had met with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul last week in an unannounced visit.

At least 17 people were killed and 41 injured on Friday, during a celebratory “aerial shooting” in Kabul, following false reports that the Taliban had captured Panjshir province a restive mountain region that was the final holdout of anti-Taliban forces.

Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid called on the group's forces to avoid shooting in the air.

“The weapons and bullets given to you are public property. No one has the right to waste them. The bullets can also harm civilians, don't shoot in vain,” he said in a tweet on Friday.

Since the Taliban took power on August 15, Afghans have staged small demonstrations in cities including Kabul, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif, to express their protest against the group's return to power, after 20 years of US occupation.

On Monday, a small group of women in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif gathered in a protest for their rights. Women also came together in Herat last week demanding that they be allowed to participate in the new government. 

The Taliban, yet to announce a government, have pledged to rule differently compared to their first stint in power, when girls and women were banned from education. Women, they say, will be allowed to attend university, but there would be a ban on mixed classes under their rule.

The new rulers have also promised an "inclusive" government that represents Afghanistan’s complex ethnic makeup.

The US-led invasion of Afghanistan removed the Taliban, but it worsened the security situation in the country. Two decades later, the Taliban are now poised to run the country again. 

The Taliban said on Monday they were in full control of Panjshir.

The Taliban warned against any further attempts to rise up against their rule, with Mujahid saying at a press conference, "Anyone who tries to start an insurgency will be hit hard. We will not allow another."

Ahmad Masoud, the son of the late anti-Soviet Mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Masoud, has established himself in the valley, leading a several-thousand-strong force comprised of militias and remnants of the Afghan army and special forces units opposed to the Taliban.

In an audio file sent to media on Monday, Masoud called for a “national uprising” against the Taliban.

Russian news agency TASS on Monday quoted a source close to anti-Taliban forces in Panjshir that their fighters had been forced to retreat to high mountain areas following drone strikes on their positions and that intense fighting was still underway in parts of the region.

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