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'You're lucky you weren't beheaded': Afghan journalists beaten, kicked, crushed by Taliban for covering women's rights protest thought they were going to die

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MARCUS YAM / LOS ANGELES TIMES

Two Afghan journalists were severely beaten and detained for hours by Taliban militants after filming a women's rights protest in Kabul on Wednesday, the Agence France-Presse reported.

In an interview with the news agency following the harrowing experience, photographer Nematullah Naqdi and his colleague Taqi Daryabi of Etilaat Roz (Information Daily) recalled being repeatedly punched, kicked, and beaten with batons, electrical cables, and whips.

"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," Naqdi told the AFP.

Despite claims that the newly installed regime would be tolerant and inclusive, numerous reports have surfaced in recent days and weeks indicating that the Taliban is violently persecuting women, Christians, and journalists.

According to the AFP, on Wednesday the Taliban declared demonstrations illegal without permission from the justice ministry.

Journalists from the Etilaatroz newspaper, Nemat Naqdi, 28, a video journalist, left and Taqi Daryabi, 22, video editor undress to show their wounds sustained after Taliban fighters tortured and beat them while in custody. (MARCUS YAM/LOS ANGELES TIMES)

The Etilaat Roz journalists had reportedly been assigned to cover a demonstration in front of a police station in Kabul where Afghan women were demanding the right to work and pursue an education. But as soon as they took out their phones to capture photos and video of the protest, multiple Taliban accosted them and hauled them off to a police station, accusing them of organizing the event.

"They told me, 'You cannot film,'" Naqdi said. "They arrested all those who were filming and took their phones."

He said Taliban fighters tried to take his camera but he was able to hand it off to someone in the crowd before being dragged away and beaten. After several hours, the journalists were reportedly released and sent away without explanation.

"You're lucky you weren't beheaded," the Taliban fighters reportedly told the journalists, according to Naqdi.

"We were in so much pain that we couldn't move," Daryabi added. "They see us as enemies."

Etilaat Roz journalist Nematullah Naqdi (left) reacts as his colleagues help him wear a shirt in their office in Kabul after being released from Taliban custody. (WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Zaki Daryabi, chief of the Etilaat Roz newspaper, confirmed the beating to the AFP, adding that the Taliban's public claims of tolerance are worthless. Dozens of journalists have reportedly been accosted and detained in recent weeks.

"This official speech is totally different from the reality that can be observed on the ground," he said.

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