An Afghan teenage girl is being celebrated as a hero after she took her family's AK-47 and shot dead two Taliban insurgents who barged into her home and killed her parents.
Late on Friday night, Taliban fighters knocked on 16-year-old Qamar Gul's family home in Geriveh village of central Ghor province, looking for her father Malikzada, the chieftain of the village and a vocal critic of the insurgents.
“They took both my father and mother out and shot them in front of my eyes," Gul said on Wednesday.
"I was terrified," but moments later, "anger took over", she said.
"I had no other choice but to take my father’s gun and fire on them. Two of them were killed and another one of them was wounded," she said.
Gul's brother Habibullah, 12, was asleep at the time of the attack but awoke to join his sister, fighting the insurgents for more than an hour.
Gul said her brother helped when one of the insurgents, who appeared to be the group's leader, tried to return fire.
"My brother took the gun from me and hit (shot) him. The fighter ran away injured, only to return later," Gul said. "I kept fighting them with my brother until other villagers came and then they [Taliban] escaped.”
Gul said her father had taught her how to shoot an AK-47 assault rifle.
"I am proud I killed my parents' murderers," she said.
"I killed them because they killed my parents, and also because I knew they would come for me and my little brother."
Gul regrets she was unable to say goodbye to her mother and father.
"After I killed the two Taliban, I went to talk to my parents, but they were not breathing," she said.
"I feel sad, I could not talk to them one last time."
But, Gul said, she is no longer afraid.
"I no longer fear them and I'm ready to fight them again."
Aref Aber, a spokesman for the provincial government, gave more details of the incident.
"Taliban armed militants tried to enter their house late at night and Gul's mother did not open the door as she knew that Taliban would harm her family," Mr Aber told The National. "The mother was immediately killed at the entrance by the attackers and they entered the house and shot Malikzada on the spot."
The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the killings at Gul's home also involved a family feud – and that one of the attackers was the girl's husband.
The paper, quoting Gul's relatives and officials, said he was seeking her "forcible return" after a falling-out with her family.
Local officials including police official Habib ur Rehman, however, said that Malikzada had received several threats against his life for supporting the government.
Abdul Rehman, a provincial government official, said that Gul and Habibullah were safe and in government custody.
"They are fine now but went through a difficult time and were in shock," Mr Rehman said.
"Both Gul and Habibullah could not speak initially but are getting better now and feeling good,"
Their actions drew appreciation from President Ashraf Ghani in a Cabinet meeting, and an invitation to visit the presidential palace.
Mr Ghani also praised Gul for "defending her family against a ruthless enemy", his spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told AFP.
A Taliban spokesman has confirmed an operation took place in the area of the attack but denied any of the group's fighters had been killed by a woman.
A photograph of Gul wearing a headscarf with an AK-47 in her lap was shared widely on social media over the past few days, with people praising her act of bravery.
"They received two titles at one night: heroes and orphans," one Facebook user said.
"She is a symbol of bravery and resistance," another post said.
In Ghor, Taliban fighters often threaten and kill people they suspect are informers for the Afghan army and the government, or are vocal supporters of Kabul.
Despite the peace agreement with the US, the Taliban continued to kill and attack troops and civilians across the war-torn country.
A suicide bomber detonated a car bomb on Monday beside a convoy of Afghan military troops in Wardak province, killing eight soldiers.