An Afghan mother has described how her son's killing at the hands of the Taliban spurred her to fight off the insurgents in a gun battle that left more than two dozen militants dead.
Rezagul says she grabbed a gun and hand grenades to help police fend off a Taliban assault after her son, a 27-year-old police officer, was killed by militants who raided a security checkpoint in western Farah Province on November 17.
"I was so enraged that I took a gun and started firing at them, and I kept throwing hand grenades," Rezagul told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan. "I was hitting anyone who was coming at us. They were firing and firing at us, and we were firing back."
Rezagul, who goes by one name, estimates she alone "must have killed some 10 Taliban" in the fighting, which took place in Farah's Bala Buluk district.
Rezagul's husband, Abdul Sattar, their son and two other police officers were manning the Ganjabad checkpoint — adjacent to Rezagul's house — when the insurgents launched the assault in the early morning.
Local officials say the attack on Ganjabad was part of a broader offensive by the Taliban that saw several simultaneous attacks on Bala Buluk that day.
"It started around 5 in the morning. They were attacking with Kalashnikovs, hand grenades and all kinds of different weapons," Rezagul says. With two police officers in her family, the housewife is familiar with weapons, although she says she had never used one before.
Rezagul says her daughter, daughter-in-law and youngest son joined her in fending off the assault. "I was helping [policemen] to put bullets into their Kalashnikovs," says Fatima, Rezagul's daughter-in-law. "And I was also throwing hand grenades. I was wounded in my leg. My husband was martyred that day."
The women say the fighting continued until late in the evening, after which point the militants withdrew.
Local security officials say a total of 27 militants were killed and 32 others were wounded in the Bala Buluk fighting.
Farah police chief Abdul Razzaq Yaqoobi corroborates Rezagul's account and praises the family, "especially the brave Afghan women," for their "exceptional courage and heroism."
Mullah Said Mohammad, the district governor, says Taliban militants also stormed the headquarters of the regional government and district police, as well as several security outposts, prompting heavy clashes with security forces.
The officials say some 700 Taliban fighters took part in the attacks. This figure cannot be independently confirmed.
The Taliban has made no comment. Officials say the militant group, which usually swiftly claims deadly attacks, stays largely silent when its raids fail.
Rezagul says her family house was almost entirely destroyed in the fighting. "We lost everything: our money, the dishes, windows; everything was burnt down," she says. "Everything was leveled."
"But we defended the outpost," she says. The family now lives in a one-story mud-brick house provided by provincial authorities.
Rezagul's youngest child, 15-year-old Sardar Mohammad, who helped the women by carrying them bullets and hand grenades, told local media, "We will never let the Taliban win."