Afghan Girl Fights Taliban

A Girl’s Heroic Battle Against the Taliban Was Also a Family Feud

A teenage Afghan girl was celebrated for killing Taliban who attacked her home. But the story of her heroism is steeped in pain, and reveals the complicated crosscurrents of the Afghan War.

By Asadullah Timory, Najim Rahim and Mujib Mashal

  • July 22, 2020

 

The teenage girl was the hero of a night of carnage that left her family’s hillside home in western Afghanistan strewn with bodies. Qamar Gul, 15, fought to her last bullet, gunning down Taliban attackers who raided the house and killed her father and mother.

In the days after the attack last week, Afghan social media was full of slick posters celebrating her as “My Hero.” Some users compared her to the Kurdish women of Kobani, Syria, who fought the Islamic State. Local officials put out pictures of Qamar Gul posing with her rifle. Afghanistan’s vice president praised her for defending against “the enemies of the nation.”

But the story of her heroism is steeped in pain, in a culture that often treats women as property, and in the confusion of an Afghan war that has twisted families into knots of complex loyalties and feuds.

One of the attackers she killed was her own husband, who was fighting on the Taliban’s side and apparently seeking her forcible return after a falling out with Ms. Gul’s family, according to relatives and local officials.

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