'Bang! and down': Afghan 'superhero' inspires awe and disdain

'Bang! and down': Afghan 'superhero' inspires awe and disdain

He is called a superhero and feted with financial rewards from Afghan politicians, but the lionisation of the soldier who singlehandedly killed six attackers in parliament belies bubbling discontent over deteriorating security.

Essa Khan Laghmani, 28, was plucked from obscurity and catapulted to national fame this week after he shot dead the Taliban insurgents who on Monday launched a gun and grenade assault on the legislature, sending terrified lawmakers scurrying for cover.

"Taq Chapako!" -- "Bang! and down" in Dari -- meanwhile became an Internet meme after he used the phrase in television interviews to describe how he effortlessly knocked down his targets as though they were skittles in a bowling alley.

Laghmani's feat offered a rare glimmer of good news during the Taliban's annual summer offensive, which has sent civilian and military casualties soaring and threatened major cities for the first time in a decade.

President Ashraf Ghani awarded him a three-bedroom apartment, former warlord General Dostum gifted him a pickup truck and some lawmakers pledged him a month of their salaries and other cash rewards to offer their gratitude.

That's not all. His posters are splashed around Kabul, a provincial governor has named a major thoroughfare after him and Afghanistan's starstruck youth have posted poems on social media to extol his "heroism".

"He killed six terrorists with six bullets. He saved the lives of MPs," defence ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri told AFP. "His bravery deserves to be celebrated."

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