A female Afghan police officer, holding one of the topmost ranks in the country, is on the run after suffering a "brutal beating" in the hands of the Taliban. Gulafroz Ebtekar, believed to be 34, who had a meteoric rise to become deputy head of criminal investigations in Afghanistan, has been trying to flee her country but there is no one to help her.
Ebtekar said that she doesn't know about her fate after being singled out by the Taliban as a target at the gates outside Hamid Karzai international airport in Kabul. She spent five nights trying to secure a place on an evacuation flight by now that seems to be a distant dream.
Ebtekar is seen as a role model for Afghan women and is a popular face with a notable media presence. However, with the pro-Western government led by Ashraf Ghani now gone, she is feeling the heat of the Taliban regime. In fact, she now fears for her life after being brutally beaten by the Taliban, and believes that she faces death, according to Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets.
The nightmare started for Ebtekar after the Taliban took control of Kabul and anticipating death threat she tried to flee the country with her boyfriend. The first woman in Afghanistan to graduate from a police academy with a master's degree, Ebtekar shared how during the chaos in the Kabul she first believed US soldiers to be helping people to flee Afghanistan. But she was wrong.
"We got to the refugee camp where the Americans were stationed. When the American soldiers were already near, I exhaled, I thought we were finally safe," she said.
"I speak a little English. I explained that it was not safe for us to remain in Kabul. They checked our documents. We were asked: 'Where do you want to go?' I replied: 'It doesn't matter, to a safe country where there is a chance we may survive'."
"They looked at me and answered quite impudently: 'Okay'. And they asked one soldier to show us the way. I thought they would escort us to a plane or provide security."
Instead, she was taken to a crowded street where there was a terrorist attack. She pleaded with the soldier to help her but he raised his weapon and said: "'Get out of here.' So we went out onto the road. At that moment, I didn't want to live anymore."
Ebtekar had studied for a masters degree at a top police academy in Russia, but the Moscow embassy also declined to help her, as they did not want to upset the Taliban. She was told that they can't help her because she did not have a Russian passport or residency.
Heartbroken, Ebtekar returned home she was greeted with worse news. Her mother told her that the Taliban had come for her while she was out. She then moved to the first of three flats she has used to try and stay out of the hands of the militants.
Helpless in Kabul
That, however, was just the beginning of her ordeal. The Taliban finally traced her. When she tried to escape to Kabul airport again, the Taliban beat her with "weapons and stones."
"All their words were accompanied by blows. When I was hit again, I could not get up, I could not say a word. The Taliban acted like this: first they hit, then allowed you to move," she said.
"You take one or two steps, and pay for it. They beat me with fists, boots, weapons and even stones."
Her former female colleagues in the police have asked her "what's going to happen to us" but Ebtekar has no answers. "I spoke on television, spoke out on social networks, fought against extremism, terrorism, advocated for the rights of women and children and believed in the best for our country," Ebtekar said.
She said that her "former life" was gone, and that six months ago, she had been "warned" by the Taliban about her job. "The Taliban wrote me letters in which they said that I should not work in the police, that I had no right to declare about women's rights," she said.
Ebtekar spent five nights in the hiding at the Kabul airport again but hasn't been able to flee her country.