Taliban fighters put an abrupt end to an Afghan women’s march after their members began shooting gunfire into the air.
The march began peacefully in the Afghan capital Kabul as demonstrators first went to the country’s Defense Ministry to pay homage to soldiers who died fighting the Taliban.
“We are here to gain human rights in Afghanistan,” said 20-year-old protester Maryam Naiby, the Associated Press reported. “I love my country. I will always be here.”
Things got ugly after the women then marched to the presidential palace. After initially trying to engage with the protesters, Taliban special forced rushed the crowd and shot into the air. They also fired tear gas, sending the women fleeing.
Though the Taliban have promised a more open and inclusive government than when they last ruled the country more than 20 years ago, many remain skeptical.
“I am the voice of the women who are unable to speak.” Farhat Popalzai, another protester, told the wire service. “They think this is a man’s country but it is not, it is a woman’s country too.”
The Taliban remains in negotiations with their own members and other Afghan notables about what the final structure of the government will look like, and divisions have reportedly opened up between them.