Afghan woman activist released after arrest in January

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Tamana Zaryabi Paryani
Image caption,
Tamana Zaryabi Paryani posted a video of herself pleading for help before she was arrested
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A female activist who was arrested by armed men in Afghanistan in January was released on Saturday, the BBC has confirmed.

Tamana Zaryabi Paryani was detained on 19 January at her apartment in Kabul's Parwan 2 area after taking part in a women's rights protest.

Her state of health remains unknown, said two sources.

On Sunday, the United Nations said a further three women had also been released.

Parwana Ibrahimkhel went missing alongside Ms Paryani, while Zahra Mohammadi and Mursal Ayar disappeared weeks later, according to the AFP news agency.

Since the Taliban took over last year, women's rights have been curtailed. In recent months women have been stopped from attending places of education and workplaces.

The women, along with dozens of others, had decided to fight back against these measures by taking part in protests.

But a few days later Ms Paryani posted a video on social media pleading for help after armed men had arrived at her house and arrested her.

After her disappearance, neighbours told BBC correspondent Quentin Sommerville that Ms Paryani had been taken away along with two of her sisters, and no-one had been to the apartment since. They said only that an "armed group" had taken them.

The Taliban have consistently denied arresting and detaining the women.

In an interview with the BBC the day after the arrests on 20 January, Suhai Shaheen, who hopes to become the Taliban's ambassador to the UN, said: "If [the Taliban] had detained them, they would say they have detained them, and if that is the allegation they will go to court and they will defend themselves... This is something legal, but if they are not detained, and they are making such fake scenes and shooting films in order to seek asylum abroad."

Media caption,

Taliban official Suhail Shaheen told the BBC that Tamana Paryani's video was faked

Women had gained many freedoms in Afghanistan prior to the Taliban's take-over.

But under their rule, Afghanistan has become the only country in the world which publicly limits education on the basis of gender.

The regular protests by women highlighting the issue are a source of embarrassment to the group.