Thousands of people have flooded the streets to take a stand against brutal violence in Afghanistan.
"They've now started killing women and children," Maryam Jamal told Al Jazeera
. "It can be me tomorrow, can be my children. This protest is historic, and we are adamant to not back off until something is done about this. We've had enough."
Protests sparked by the brutal slayings of members of one of Afghanistan's minority ethnic groups have drawn crowds of about 10,000. Tensions rose Wednesday, the Associated Press reported, as government security officials opened fire on crowds trying to scale the fence of the presidential palace. Ten people were injured.
The beheaded bodies of the seven members of the Hazara Shiite minority, including a 9-year-old child, were found in a southern province on Saturday, according to the AP
. It's not clear who killed and beheaded them, as they may have been abducted up to six months ago. The Taliban has laid blame on militants affiliated with the Islamic State terror group. Afghan security officials have disputed that claim, the AP reported.
The protesters, who come from various ethnic groups, are demanding justice for those slain, as well as action from the government to protect the country's citizens. Some are calling for the resignation of President Ashraf Ghani.
Many women have joined those protests on the front lines.
Shima Rezaee, a schoolteacher who helped carry the coffin of 9-year-old Shukria through the streets, told NBC News
that her "heart is crying today."
"I have a 9-year-old daughter myself and I can feel the pain…. We will not let the coffins down and will not bury them until the government listens to our cries for justice," she said.
Earlier in the week, hundreds of women gathered to bring attention to the case of a 27-year-old woman who was beaten to death in March, according to the AP. The woman, known as Farkhunda, was reportedly
targeted by a mob over allegations that she had burned a Quran.
Afghanistan's Solidarity Party, which supports women's rights, has been speaking out on her case and about other instances of violence against women, including the recent stoning of a 22-year-old condemned to death
over adultery accusations in a Taliban-controlled village.
"This is not the first such incident and it won't be the last," Solidarity Party spokesman Silai Ghafar told the AP.
Click through to see more powerful images from this week's protests.