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Taliban ‘murdered’ an Afghan girl’s parents — so she shot their killers

Afghan teenager Qamar Gul is shown with a Kalashnikov-style rifle.
Afghan teenager Qamar Gul is shown with a Kalashnikov-style rifle. Via Afghanistan Times/Twitter

A teen girl and her kid brother allegedly fought off a Taliban invasion at their home in Afghanistan, killing multiple insurgents and wounding several others after they “murdered” her parents, officials say.

The harrowing incident happened in a tiny village called Geriveh in the central province of Ghor, the AFP reports.

Qamar Gul, who is approximately 16 years old, was inside the family home with her younger brother when the attack happened at about 1 a.m. on July 16, Afghan officials said.

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About 40 Taliban fighters showed up looking for Gul’s father, who was chief of the village and a supporter of the Afghan government, a local police chief told the AFP.

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“The insurgents came to their doorstep, and her mother went to see who was knocking,” said Mohamed Aref Aber, a spokesman for the provincial governor. “When she saw that they were armed, she refused to open the door.”

The insurgents shot Gul’s mother then killed her father, Aber said in a statement obtained by the Guardian.

“They dragged my mother outside and shot her dead,” Gul told Radio Free Europe. “They dragged my father outside and killed him, too.”

The girl grabbed her father’s AK-47 rifle and gunned down at least two of the insurgents when they came back for her, officials said. She and her little brother then spent an hour fending off the Taliban fighters.

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The encounter triggered a broader fight between Taliban fighters and pro-government militia in the village, the Afghanistan Times reports. The villagers eventually drove the Taliban off.

“I’m proud to have killed Taliban fighters,” Gul said. “I killed my parents’ murderers. I will fight the Taliban until my last drop of blood.”

Gul recounted the story for reporters outside the provincial governor’s office on Tuesday.

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“I had no choice but to take my father’s gun and fire on them,” she said. “Two were killed and another of them was wounded.”

Qamar Gul, 16, right, and her brother Habibullah, 12, pose for a photograph in the governor’s office in Feroz Koh, the provincial capital of Ghor province, in western Afghanistan, Tuesday, July 21, 2020.
Qamar Gul, 16, right, and her brother Habibullah, 12, pose for a photograph in the governor’s office in Feroz Koh, the provincial capital of Ghor province, in western Afghanistan, Tuesday, July 21, 2020. AP Photo

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, denied the report. He told the Associated Press that the Taliban attacked a checkpoint belonging to the pro-government militias in Taywara last week. Mujahid said two Taliban fighters were injured but none of them were killed in the firefight.

The Afghan government says the shooting did happen, and it has moved the two children to the provincial capital to protect them.

Tariq Arian, a spokesperson for Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry, hailed Gul as a “hero” on Twitter.

“The cabinet praises the courage of Qamar Gul,” he wrote.

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The girl and her brother were celebrated as heroes on social media, and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani reportedly invited them to Kabul for a celebratory meeting.

One image of Gul holding the AK-47 has spread widely on social media. It’s unclear who captured the first photo, but Afghanistan’s 1TV News has another photo showing Gul holding the gun in a different pose. She appears to be wearing the same clothing as in the viral photo.

The Taliban has stepped up attacks on pro-government communities in recent weeks, despite the peace deal it signed with the United States back in February. That deal was meant to kick-start peace talks between the U.S.-backed Afghan government and the Taliban.

More than 1,200 civilians were killed and 1,700 were injured in security incidents over the first half of 2020, according to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. About 48.5 per cent of all civilian casualties have been attributed to the Taliban over that time, the group says. It also linked 15.5 per cent of the casualties to government forces.

At least 100,000 Afghans have been killed since the U.S. overthrew the country’s Taliban-run government in 2001.

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With files from the Associated Press