KABUL, Afghanistan — An Afghan mother has become a hero among some of her countrymen after allegedly fighting the Taliban militants who had just killed her policeman son.
Reza Gul, a resident of Balabolok district of western Farah province, said she rushed to the small police outpost near her home after it came under attack early on November 17.
She told NBC News she screamed in anger and grief when she saw her son Safiullah — who had been guarding the outpost along with a group of lightly armed policemen — shot dead. Then, she said, she took action.
“The Taliban attacked our village and my son’s outpost at dawn," explained Gul, who like many in Afghanistan does not know her exact age but who estimates she is between 50 and 60. “After seeing my young son’s body I picked up his gun and decided to fight off the killers of my son until I die.”
Gul spoke to NBC News by telephone from Farah, the capital of Farah Province. NBC News could not independently confirm Gul’s account, although local police and media repeated similar versions of the incident.
“I fought them until dark along with other boys from the police, and [we] killed at least 25 of them,” she added, saying that her husband, daughter-in-law, daughter and her teenage son also joined in and supplied her with ammunition.
Gul's daughter, Fatima, told Afghan television channel Tolo News that she had prepared bullets for her father and mother to fight.
"We started a kind of family war against the Taliban," she said.
Gul's daughter-in-law Seema told Tolo News that the fighting intensified when she reached the battlefield armed with a variety of light and heavy weapons, but that "we were committed to fight until the last bullet."
Provincial police chief General Abdul Razaq Yaqoobi confirmed that the Taliban had launched a heavy assault on Balabolok district on November 17 with an estimated 400 fighters.
"The police post in Abdul Satar village which was manned by 10 local police and commanded by a local police officer named Safiullah came under heavy shelling and the commander was killed in the gun battle," he said.
He added that Safiullah’s mother had joined the policemen after learning of her son's death and taken up his rifle. The mother's presence boosted the morale of policemen resisting the attack, Yaqoobi said, and after seven hours of heavy fighting the Taliban fled. At least 25 Taliban militants were killed and 31 injured in that village alone, Yaqoobi added.
News of Reza Gul fighting the Taliban lit up Afghan social media, with some comparing her to the legendary female folk hero Malalai of Maiwand, who allegedly rallied fighters against the British during the second Anglo-Afghan war of 1879.