A young female student whose college was devastated in a suicide bombing has gone on to record the top exam marks in Afghanistan.
Dozens of students at Shamsia Alizada's tuition centre were killed two years ago when an Islamic State militant detonated in their lecture theatre as they crammed for university entrance exams.
Ms Alizada was a junior student at the Mawoud Academy in Kabul, and lost several friends in the blast in August 2018.
Now 18, she has topped the national university entrance exam, scoring the highest nationwide mark of nearly 200,000 students.
Her story of hope over adversity has being eagerly seized on in Afghanistan, as uncertainty hangs over peace talks with the Taliban and scores are killed or wounded each week. The triumph of a young woman has also highlighted fears that the Taliban will again try to limit women's rights in any settlement forged with the Kabul government.
Shamsia, who survived the deadly #ISKP Kabul attack on Mawood Educational Center in August 2018, has secured first position in this year's nationwide university entrance exam, Kankor. She shares her happiness of her score and sorrow for dozens Kankor takers lost in the attack. pic.twitter.com/HS0lMO9hCF— Kabul Now (@KabulNow) September 24, 2020
Ms Alizada, a coal miner's daughter from Afghanistan's Hazara minority, will now go to medical school and one day hopes to study abroad. Her family have lived in the capital for only three years, having travelled the country looking for work for her father, who is currently mining in Samangan province.
“When the result was announced, I was not watching the television. My mother called me saying: 'You got first position!'
“It might be on of the moments that I will never forget, seeing my mother smiling from the bottom of her heart.”
At least 100 students were killed or wounded when the study centre was bombed. Many came from poor families who hoped that a place on a prestigious university course would transform the fortunes of their children.
“It is very painful when young people are getting martyred. It was a very bad day and I hope it will never be repeated,” she said.
Ms Alizada said another student, called Rahila, had also been expected to score highly in the national rankings. “Sadly she is dead now, with all her dreams.”
The Taliban deny they are seeking to reimpose their 1990s bans on girl's education and women in the workplace in any peace deal. However their declarations that women's rights will be protected “under Islam” have failed to assure many women.
"Their definition of women's rights remains in the grey area," said Adela Raz, Afghanistan's first female ambassador to the United Nations, earlier this week.
"They have been saying the same thing about their version of the sharia without explaining any change and reforms.”