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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 August, 2003, 16:19 GMT 17:19 UK
Women protest over Afghan security
By Ian MacWilliam
BBC correspondent in Kabul

Women queue to enter the park for the protest
The women had considered holding a public march

A thousand women protesters have gathered in the Afghan capital, Kabul, to call for action to improve security in the country.

This comes as Nato prepares to take charge of the international security force in the city on Monday.

The women gathered in the Women's Park - a walled garden reserved for women and children only - to voice their concerns about continuing insecurity in Afghanistan.

A declaration was read out calling for international troops and the new Afghan National Army - now being trained by several western nations - to be sent to cities throughout the country.

Security is not good now and the rule of the central government is getting weaker day by day
Women's group spokeswoman
Shinkai Zahin
It also called for all militias and fighters outside central government control to be disarmed.

A further request was for international soldiers to be given better training to help them distinguish between civilian and what the declaration called "enemy forces".

This reflects a concern that innocent people have sometimes been caught up in continuing American and coalition operations in pursuit of Taleban and al-Qaeda supporters in the east of the country.

The protest organisers had originally wanted to hold a march through the streets of Kabul.

But in a country where such political gatherings by women are still very rare, they decided such a public display would be too risky.

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