Bizarre Taliban photos emerge: 'This is real'

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More than a month after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, bizarre images continue to emerge from the country of gun-wielding militants engaging in leisure activities.

Taliban members in Afghanistan’s Bamyan Province were spotted holding guns while on a fleet of pedal boats in images strikingly similar to when militants were spotted weeks earlier on a fairground's bumper cars.

The images were shared to Twitter by journalist and filmmaker Jake Hanrahan and show members of the Taliban on colourful, swan-shaped pedal boats on clear blue water.

"These photos are real," he said on Twitter.

"The reminder that even the worst people on the planet are human, that’s the scariest thing about them," one person remarked in response to Hanrahan's photo.

Taliban fighters were seen on paddle boats in Afghanistan's Bamyan Province. Source: Twitter/@Jake_Hanrahan
Taliban fighters were seen on paddle boats in Afghanistan's Bamyan Province. Source: Twitter/@Jake_Hanrahan

The images were also shared by Murad Gazdiev, a correspondent for RT, who said the fighters were "relaxing" at Band-e-Amir national park, which was once a popular tourist destination.

"Not sure why one would bring a rocket launcher with him onto a pedal boat," he said.

After the Taliban seized the capital Kabul back in August, fighters were seen enjoying themselves on bumper cars and a merry-go-round.

When they're not riding pedal boats, the Taliban is barring women and girls from schools, jobs and public life.

Female high school students told to stay home

It told female middle and high school students they could not return to school for the time being, while boys in those grades resumed studies this weekend.

Female university students were informed that studies would take place in gender-segregated settings from now on, and they must abide by a strict Islamic dress code.

Under the US-backed government deposed by the Taliban, university studies had been co-ed, for the most part.

Female employees in the Kabul city government have been told to stay home, with work only allowed for those who cannot be replaced by men, the interim mayor of Afghanistan's capital said.

The decision to prevent most female city workers from returning to their jobs is another sign the Taliban, who overran Kabul last month, are enforcing their harsh interpretation of Islam despite initial promises by some they would be tolerant and inclusive.

In their previous rule in the 1990s, the Taliban barred girls and women from schools, jobs and public life.

A Taliban member (middle) speaks with shop owners at Qargha Reservoir on the outskirts of Kabul on September 19. Source: Getty Images
A Taliban member (middle) speaks with shop owners at Qargha Reservoir on the outskirts of Kabul on September 19. Source: Getty Images

Women blast 'dead society'

On Friday, the Taliban shut down the Women's Affairs Ministry, replacing it with a ministry for the "propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice" tasked with enforcing Islamic law.

On Sunday, just over a dozen women staged a protest outside the ministry, holding up signs calling for the participation of women in public life. 

"A society in which women are not active is (sic) dead society," one sign read.

The protest lasted for about 10 minutes. After a short verbal confrontation with a man, the women got into cars and left, as Taliban in two cars observed from nearby.

Over the past months, Taliban fighters had broken up several women's protests by force.

Elsewhere, about 30 women, many of them young, held a news conference in the basement of a home tucked away in a Kabul neighbourhood.

Women in Kabul protesting the Taliban decision to ban them from public life. Source: AP
The interim mayor of Afghanistan’s capital said many female city employees have been ordered to stay home by the country’s new Taliban rulers. Source: AP

Marzia Ahmadi, a rights activist and government employee now forced to sit at home, said they would demand the Taliban re-open public spaces to women.

"It's our right," she said. "We want to talk to them. We want to tell them that we have the same rights as they have."

Most of the participants said they would try to leave the country if they had an opportunity.

Also on Sunday, interim Kabul Mayor Hamdullah Namony gave his first news conference since being appointed by the Taliban.

He said that before the Taliban takeover last month, just under one-third of close to 3000 city employees were women, and they had worked in all departments.

Namony said the female employees have been ordered to stay home, pending a further decision.

He said exceptions were made for women who could not be replaced by men, including some in the design and engineering departments and the attendants of public toilets for women.

With Associated Press

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