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Two Afghan journalists suffered a severe beating and were detained by the Taliban for covering a protest in Kabul, according to Agence-France Presse (AFP).
The two were collected at a demonstration Wednesday and transported to a police station in the capital and later claimed they were punched, beaten with batons, electrical cables, and whips, once they were accused of organizing the rally.
“One of the Taliban put his foot on my head, crushed my face against the concrete. They kicked me in the head… I thought they were going to kill me,” photographer Nematullah Naqdi said during an interview with the outlet.
Wednesday evening, the Taliban reportedly said demonstrations were illegal unless the group got permission from the justice ministry.
Naqdi and reporter Taqi Daryabi, who both work for Etilaat Roz (Information Daily) were assigned to cover the protest outside a police station by women demanding the right to go to work and obtain an education.
According to Naqdi, he was accosted by a Taliban member when he began snapping photos.
“They told me ‘You cannot film’,” he recalled, adding, “They arrested all those who were filming and took their phones.”
The Taliban reportedly tried to take his camera but he was able to hand it to a person in the crowd.
Daryabi told the BBC he fell unconscious after the beating and approximately two hours later, he had been let go.
“I could barely walk but they were telling us to walk quickly. I was in very bad pain,” he commented.
Naqdi said he asked the reason for the beating and was told “You are lucky you weren’t beheaded.”
According to AFP, the Taliban claimed it would adhere to press freedoms even though journalists were being harassed while covering protests in areas across the country.
“In recent days, dozens of journalists have reported being beaten, detained or prevented from covering the protests, a show of resistance unthinkable under the Taliban’s last regime in the 1990s. Most are Afghan journalists, whom the Taliban harass more than the foreign media,” the outlet said.
This week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken voiced concern regarding the interim Taliban government in Afghanistan, describing it as not “inclusive” enough.
“We’re assessing the announcement but despite professing that a new government would be inclusive, the announced list of names consist exclusively of individuals or members of the Taliban or their close associates and no women,” Blinken said during a news conference at Ramstein Airbase in Germany.