Taliban 'torture' journalists covering Kabul protests sending stark message to free press.

Journalists Taqi Daryabi and Neamat Naghdi from Etilaat Roz newspaper said on Thursday that they were "tortured" by the Taliban after covering women's rights protests in Kabul.

"While we were at the protests yesterday (September 8), Taliban forces took me and my coworker with them and tortured us," Taqi Daryabi said in an interview with West Asia News Agency (WANA).

Panjshir is a steep valley north of Kabul and has been a base of anti-Talibal resistance. The Taliban claimed victory on Monday (September 6) the last part of Afghanistan still holding out against their rule, declaring that the capture of the Panjshir valley completed their takeover of the country.

Both Taqi Daryabi and and Neamat Naghdi had severe bruises on their bodies from the beatings during their detention.

Taqi Daryabi, a video editor for Etilaat Roz, told WANA that "about seven or eight people were beating us as much as they could. They would raise sticks and beat us with all of their strength."

When asked about the incident, an acting Taliban minister, who was named in his post when the new government was announced on Tuesday, said that any attack on journalists would be investigated. He declined to be identified.

Zaki Daryabi, founder and editor-in-chief of the Etilaat Roz newspaper, said the beatings sent a chilling message to the media in Afghanistan, where an independent press, much of it funded by Western donors, has flourished in the last 20 years.

He said the injured reporters were taken to hospital and advised by doctors to take two weeks' rest.

Etilaat Roz's video reporter, Neamat Naghdi, implored the international community to protect journalists in Afghanistan.

"This is our demand to the international community, for them to make a move, make a demand, apply some pressure on the Islamic Emirate so that no journalist will be beaten like we were after this," he said.

The Taliban, who swept into the capital Kabul on Aug. 15 and now rule Afghanistan again after fighting a 20-year insurgency against foreign and Afghan forces, have vowed to allow the media to operate and respect people's human rights.

But incidents of abuse since they came to power have raised doubts among some Afghans.

The last time the Taliban ruled the country from 1996-2001 there was no independent media and the Internet was in its infancy.

Several journalists have complained of assault since the Taliban returned to power, and some women have said they were not allowed to carry on working in media jobs.

Under the first Taliban rule, women were banned from work and education. The group has said in recent weeks that women will be allowed to work and attend university within the parameters of Islamic law.

"With the sudden collapse of the government, Etilaat Roz initially decided to stay and operate in the hope that there would be no big issue for media and journalists," Zaki Daryabi said.

"But with yesterday's incident, that little hope I had for the future of media and journalists in country is destroyed."

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