Armed Taliban fighters ride PEDALOS on lake in Afghanistan national park


Taliban fighters have been pictured brandishing RPGs and assault rifles while riding pedalos – as protests take place across Afghanistan over the ban on girls returning to school. 

Images appear to show militants riding swan-themed vessels on the water at Band-e Amir National Park – once a hotspot for international travellers and domestic tourists – in central Afghanistan yesterday. 

The park contains a series of six deep blue lakes situated in the Hindu Kush mountains, roughly 45 miles from Bamiyan – formerly the home of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, which the Taliban destroyed in 2001. 

Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers, who set up a ministry for the ‘propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice’ in the building that once housed the Women’s Affairs Ministry, are now facing protests over the treatment of women and girls, just one month after overtaking the country’s capital Kabul. 

On Saturday the Taliban excluded girls from returning to secondary school in but ordered boys and male teachers back to the classroom, again breaking their promise to bring about a less severe brand of rule than their 1990s predecessors.

During their previous rule of Afghanistan in the 1990s, the Taliban had denied girls and women the right to education and barred them from public life.

A statement from the education ministry last Friday demanded: ‘All male teachers and students should attend their educational institutions.’ It made no mention of female teachers or pupils.

Some Afghan women are now protesting the return to repression, with boys also refusing to attend class in solidarity. One boy was pictured in a Twitter post holding a sign that says: ‘We don’t go to school without our sisters’. 

Afghans voiced their support for the child in the post’s replies, with one saying: ‘Education is the right of every Afghan. We hope that the Taliban will allow our sisters to open schools as well.’ 

Militants are seen riding swan-themed pedalos on the water at Band-e Amir National Park – once a hotspot for international travellers and domestic tourists – in central Afghanistan in the images uploaded by journalist and filmmaker Jake Hanrahan

The park contains a series of six deep blue lakes situated in the Hindu Kush mountains, roughly 45 miles from Bamiyan - formerly the home of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, which the Taliban destroyed in 2001

 The park contains a series of six deep blue lakes situated in the Hindu Kush mountains, roughly 45 miles from Bamiyan – formerly the home of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, which the Taliban destroyed in 2001

Afghan women march to demand their rights under the Taliban rule during a demonstration near the former Women's Affairs Ministry building in Kabul today

Afghan women march to demand their rights under the Taliban rule during a demonstration near the former Women’s Affairs Ministry building in Kabul today 

Afghan boys have been refusing to go to school, in solidarity with girls who have been prohibited. The boy here is holding a sign that says ‘We don’t go to school without our sisters’, according to the BBC’s Yalda Hakim, who uploaded the picture to Twitter

Afghan women converse with a Taliban fighter while they hold placards during a demonstration demanding better rights for women in front of the former Ministry of Women Affairs in Kabul

Afghan women converse with a Taliban fighter while they hold placards during a demonstration demanding better rights for women in front of the former Ministry of Women Affairs in Kabul

Workers in the Afghan capital covered the women's ministry signs for a replacement in a mixture of Dari and Arabic, reading 'Ministries of Prayer and Guidance and the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice'

 Workers in the Afghan capital covered the women’s ministry signs for a replacement in a mixture of Dari and Arabic, reading ‘Ministries of Prayer and Guidance and the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice’

Women march to demand their rights under the Taliban rule during a demonstration near the former Women's Affairs Ministry building in Kabul, Afghanistan today

Women march to demand their rights under the Taliban rule during a demonstration near the former Women’s Affairs Ministry building in Kabul, Afghanistan today 

Secondary schools, typically teaching teenage pupils and often segregated by sex in Afghanistan, had to close repeatedly during the coronavirus pandemic and have remained closed since the Taliban took over. 

Primary schools have reopened, with boys and girls mostly attending separate classes and some female teachers going back to work, and the regime has also allowed women to attend private universities – but with harsh restrictions on their clothes and movement. 

In Kabul on Friday, workers raised a sign for the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice at the old Women’s Affairs building in the capital.

Videos posted to social media showed female ministry workers protesting outside after losing their jobs.  

Officials in the new ministry said they had not been informed whether a new women’s ministry was being planned.  

Now the United Nations says it is ‘deeply worried’ for the future of girls’ schooling in Afghanistan.

Girls were excluded from returning to secondary school in Afghanistan on Saturday, after the country's new Taliban rulers ordered only boys and male teachers back to the classroom

Girls were excluded from returning to secondary school in Afghanistan on Saturday, after the country’s new Taliban rulers ordered only boys and male teachers back to the classroom

A Taliban fighter watches as Afghan women hold placards during a demonstration demanding better rights for women in front of the former Ministry of Women Affairs in Kabul on September 19

A Taliban fighter watches as Afghan women hold placards during a demonstration demanding better rights for women in front of the former Ministry of Women Affairs in Kabul on September 19

A view of closed office of a musical company in Kandahar, Afghanistan, 19 September 2021. Dozens of Afghan singers and musicians have fled the country to neighboring Pakistan, in fear of retaliation by Taliban

A view of closed office of a musical company in Kandahar, Afghanistan, 19 September 2021. Dozens of Afghan singers and musicians have fled the country to neighboring Pakistan, in fear of retaliation by Taliban

'All male teachers and students should attend their educational institutions,' a statement said ahead of classes resuming Saturday. The statement, issued late Friday, made no mention of women teachers or girl pupils

‘All male teachers and students should attend their educational institutions,’ a statement said ahead of classes resuming Saturday. The statement, issued late Friday, made no mention of women teachers or girl pupils

‘It is critical that all girls, including older girls, are able to resume their education without any further delays. 

‘For that, we need female teachers to resume teaching,’ the UN’s children’s agency UNICEF said.

It comes as three explosions targeted Taliban vehicles in the eastern provincial capital of Jalalabad on Saturday, killing three people and wounding 20, witnesses said. 

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Islamic State group’s militants, headquartered in the area, are enemies of the Taliban.

The Taliban are facing major economic and security problems as they attempt to govern, and a growing challenge by IS militants would further stretch their resources.

In Kabul, a new sign was up outside the women’s affairs ministry, announcing it was now the ‘Ministry for Preaching and Guidance and the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.’



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