From Panjshir, stories of resistance from women: 'Fought Taliban with stones'
In the Taliban blitzkrieg that swept through Afghanistan last month, one province was determined to not let the insurgents succeed. The mountainous Panjshir province in the northeastern part of Afghanistan held on for the longest time, with the support from resistance leader Ahmad Massoud and former vice president Amrullah Saleh.
And it was not just the men who hit back. "I fought them with stones," 24-year-old Lailuma told New York Post. She said her whole family - husband, brothers, cousins, father-in-law, mother-in-law - was fighting the Taliban.
Scores of other women too joined Lailuma and said they fought the Taliban with stones.
She is now living in a displacement camp in national capital Kabul after fleeing Panjshir. Armed with enormous weapons arsenal seized from the Afghan army, Taliban fighters continued their relentless advance and captured the Panjshir valley.
Another resident of the province told the Post that the fighting is still on in Panjshir. Murtaza was hiding in the mountains for day before being found by the Taliban and stuffed into the overcrowded Kabul camp.
Lailuma, meanwhile, vowed to "follow Massoud till my last breath". She hopes to go back to her home some day.
Panjshir fighters earned a legendary reputation for resistance, defending their mountain homes first from the Soviet military for a decade, throughout the following civil war, and against the first Taliban regime from 1996-2001.
The 115-kilometre (70-mile) valley surrounded by jagged snow-capped peaks offers defenders a natural advantage.
But two decades since the late veteran fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud led the Panjshiris to victory, the province is no longer as isolated.
On August 30, the Taliban launched a multi-pronged offensive - with some residents claiming the Panjshiri fighters were outnumbered three-to-one. On September 6, the Taliban seized the Panjshir's capital of Bazarak and raised their white banner.