The Taliban has launched a series of raids on women's rights activists, forcing them to change safe houses daily to avoid arrest, according to activists.

The Taliban raids come just days after the group used pepper spray to break up a women's rights rally in the capital Kabul, activists say.
The Taliban raids come just days after the group used pepper spray to break up a women's rights rally in the capital Kabul, activists say. (AFP)

Several Afghan women's rights activists have said they are going into hiding to escape a Taliban crackdown, just days after the group used pepper spray to break up a rally in the capital.

At least one woman was arrested, in what appeared to be a series of raids on Wednesday night, four women activists told AFP.

A self-shot video of a second woman in distress, warning of Taliban fighters at her door, circulated on social media.

The whereabouts of both women were unknown on Thursday.

Some of the activists, who communicate using WhatsApp and other social media, said they were changing safe houses daily and regularly changing their cell phone numbers.

"We cannot stay at our homes, even at night," one activist, who has asked not to be named for security reasons, said.

Another activist said the Taliban went to her house looking for her, but she was away with a relative at the time.

"The video created a lot of panic ... a lot of fear among the women," said another activist, who asked not to be named.

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Activists rally

The small group of dedicated activists have been taking to the streets of Kabul frequently to demonstrate against the Taliban, which has slowly been squeezing women out of public life.

Taliban forces on Sunday fired pepper spray at a group of women protesters, and several said they were followed after they dispersed.

"Our last protest hit them hard, and it pushed them to launch the arrests," one activist said, referring to Sunday's rally of about 20 women.

Human Rights Watch has condemned what it called a "violent crackdown" on protest.

It "marks an alarming and unlawful escalation of efforts to suppress peaceful protest and free speech in Afghanistan", HRW said on Tuesday.

Since storming back to power in August, The Taliban have increasingly been crushing dissent, detaining several Afghan journalists and a prominent university professor who had spoken out on TV against the new rulers.

He was released days later following a social media campaign condemning his arrest.

The Taliban has not responded to an AFP request for comment.

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Source: AFP