Bomb in front of Indonesian Embassy in Kabul

I am not in Kabul at this moment, but was very much shocked to read a friend’s SMS: Bomb outside of Indian and Indonesian embassies in Kabul. Casualties. All Indonesian friends are safe. Building damaged. Later, I read more on the Internet. The bomb happened at 8:25 a.m., the busy hour when dozens of visa applicants queueing in front of the Indian embassy. The Indonesian embassy was not the target, but unluckily it was located right next to the Indian embassy. The location is on sensitive area of Ministry of Interior street, heavily guarded everyday during office hours as a deadly bomb blast in 2006 here. On the same street is also the Pajhwok Afghan News Office, where I used to live in Kabul. Here is a photo of the scene after the bomb blast, taken by photographer colleague of Pajhwok, Ahmadullah Salemi The deadly bomb blast At the right side, far behind, the white building is the Indonesian embassy. Despite of the worsening security in Kabul, the embassy still puts its office right beside the main street. The result of this blast, the building is damaged and some diplomats are wounded. Body pieces even reached the tennis lawn, about [...]

July 7, 2008 // 6 Comments

Taliban Attack on Luxury Hotel in Afghan Capital Kills Eight

The luxurious, five star Serena Hotel. With such heavy tiered security system, who expects this hotel can be attacked? Jan. 15 (Bloomberg) – Taliban insurgents killed as many as eight people in a suicide bomb attack on a luxury hotel in the Afghan capital, Kabul, where Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store was hosting a meeting. A Norwegian journalist accompanying the foreign minister and a U.S. citizen were among those killed in yesterday’s bomb- and-gunfire assault at the Serena Hotel. Store was uninjured, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. The assault is a “serious crime against humanity,’’ Ban told reporters in New York. Store was the target of the attack, he said, without elaborating. Suicide bombings in Afghanistan have risen sevenfold over the past two years and Taliban fighters are increasingly carrying out attacks in the capital. The assault may signal a shift in tactics for the rebels, who have previously focused on military and Afghan government targets. It was the deadliest attack on a hotel in Kabul since the Islamist movement was ousted by a U.S.-led coalition in 2001, the Associated Press reported. Four militants armed with guns and grenades carried out the assault, AP cited Taliban spokesman [...]

January 14, 2008 // 0 Comments

Kabul – Rocked by Rockets

Rockets rocking the capital An early morning in Kabul was rocked when sound of blasts reverberated throughout the capital. 8:20 A.M. I heard a blast, sounds very near. Not as loud as a bomb blast, and even initially I thought it was a car incident. The second blast came afterwards. It was not at all car incident, but rocket attacks toward the Kabul police headquarters about a block away from where I am working. A reporter and I immediately ran to the site. A big fire was seen on the emptied road. The police tried hard to seal the area from onlookers and prevented the journalists, photographers, and cameramen to get closer. “The attacker is still here,” said a police, “he is running away and we are looking for him. It’s very dangerous.” Police is quick in cleaning up the debris The road is messy. This area was full of street hawkers and in the morning it was very busy of people shopping. I saw many shoes and sandals, offered at roadside, left away by the scared owners. The insurgency came from a truck loaded with five rockets covered under piles of hay. Two of the rockets were detonated. Another [...]

December 15, 2007 // 0 Comments

Kabul – Rocket Rains

Winter is usually quiet months of bomb attacks. But it seems the formula does not work for this year. This week is the worst of this year in term of security in the capital. In recent days there had been several fatal bomb blasts all over the capital. It had been part of the daily life here. On November 27, when I was just walking on the street from the Afghan bodybuilding about 7:30 a.m, suddenly I heard a big blast. I am already used to this kind of blast or that kind of rocket rocks; I usually had no any more surprised reaction to this kind of happening. But I usually stay in my room when all of these things happened – in a safe place. Now, I am on road and the blast was heard much louder and shocking. I ran for some steps, but became completely normal again not more than a minute after. The blast happened somewhere near the Pakistan embassy, about 4 kilometer from the place I initially heard the blast. The target was a military vehicle in heavily secured area of Wazir Akbar Khan, where many embassies and foreign aid organizations are located. December [...]

December 6, 2007 // 0 Comments

Kabul – A Failed Mission,2933,312183,00.html A planned attack launched from Pakistan has been foiled, says the spokesman of the ministry. Afghan security forces, meanwhile, arrested a potential homicide bomber as he attempted to board an army bus in Kabul, Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary told reporters. Authorities have been wary of attacks targeting army or police buses in Kabul after two such attacks this year. The attacker was from the Pakistani city of Peshawar, Bashary said. Afghan and Western officials say many homicide bombers are trained in neighboring Pakistan and then cross the border into Afghanistan to carry out their attacks. An Afghan soldier kicked the man as he tried to board the bus, and when the attacker fell down, he was unable to detonate his suicide vest, said Kabul police chief Mohammad Salim Hasas. The officials displayed the defused suicide vest for the media and said the attacker was undergoing blood tests because he appeared to be under the influence of drugs. Hasas said the attacker’s identity would not be revealed in hopes he would inform on other attackers. More than 6,000 people have died in insurgency-related violence this year — a record number, according to an Associated Press count based on figures [...]

November 19, 2007 // 0 Comments

Kabul – A Blast in Baharistan

Bomb blast in the middle of holy month An early morning in the middle of Ramadan, the Muslim’s holy month, Kabul once again saw one of deadliest terrorism attacks this year. A crowded bus loading soldiers of Afghan National Army (ANA) was ripped into two parts. All passengers on-board were feared dead. Civilians were among the victims. The holy month has not brought quiet peaceful moment in the country. It is 6:45 a.m. I was slapped from my lazy sleep by a big blast. After living in Kabul for a while, I am pretty much used to bomb blasts. “It must be another bomb blast,” I thought. But considering that the blast was very loud, it should be a big one. But what can I do? Nobody arrived in our news office and for sure it was not recommended for me to go alone. I tried to go back to my sleep. I just wished it was not a bomb, but an accident from the near Chinese construction site. But I could not sleep. Sirens of police cars or ambulance could be heard from my room. I know it was indeed a bomb blast, and for sure, a huge one. [...]

September 29, 2007 // 1 Comment

Kabul – A Peace Day and A Bomb

Children celebrate Peace Day. “Peace is for all!” they say. International Peace Day may be just an ordinary day to most countries in the world, but in Afghanistan it is treated very seriously. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) declared September 21 as Peace Day in Afghanistan since July this year. This date, the one day of peace in Afghanistan, is the day without violence, one day of peace to start a peace era in the war-torn country. A series of activities were conducted to promote the peace day campaign extensively since the previous week. Yesterday, more than one hundred street children were collected to fly kites together from top of a hill. This, with media collaboration, became headlines in newspapers and brought the peace message through the TVs and radio. A day before, the Kabul Municipality inaugurated a Peace Junction: a simple junction transformed to be a pleasant green park. UNAMA also conducted an exhibition of 18 photos of an Afghan female photographer, Freshta Dunya, in the restored fabled garden of Babur. The number of 18 in such a big place of exhibition is considerably modest. But UNAMA made it big anyway, by inviting numerous TV cameramen to [...]

September 21, 2007 // 0 Comments

Kabul – Peace Day in Afghanistan

“It’s not enough to talk about peace. One should believe in it. And it’s not enough to believe in it. One should work on it.” A Taliban member was caught and now displayed to the journalists I read this strong message in a local newspaper today. Three days to go, and Afghanistan is going to celebrate the Peace Day in the country. What a beautiful day. Imagine a day without bomb blast, a day without fire and explosion. Peace, in Afghanistan where never-ending wars have crushed the country to its worst, is a dear thing that has been awaited for decades. UNAMA, the main UN agency in Afghanistan, declared 21 September to be celebrated as Peace Day throughout Afghanistan. They work together with a global campaign group called Peace One Day. The date is to be marked by a countrywide total cessation of violence. I also cannot wait to see the arrival of peace in Afghanistan. I am tired of news of bomb blasts and fire. I am tired of news of ethnic clash and demonstrations of the discriminated minorities. I am tired reading about anger towards American, Pakistani, and Iranian intervention in Afghanistan. And I am waiting the day [...]

September 18, 2007 // 0 Comments

Kabul – Bom Blast (Again)

What? A bomb blast? Come on, it’s just a bomb blast. Let’s continue with the party and plenty of food here. It was like a morning call. A big blast even rocked me from my sleep. I opened my eyes, thought a while, “it might be a bomb blast”, and continued sleeping. Later I just found out that it was a suicide bomb. The location is nearby the airport, about 4 km from my place. But as the sound was very loud, this should be a big bomb, a car bomb. The attacker targeted a NATO-led ISAF military airport, just next to the main military airport. But the target seemed to be very miraculous, as always, as the attacker only killed two Afghan soldiers and injured some others. Suicide attacks have been quite rampant in Kabul in last three months, since the big blast which killed 35 Afghan police cadets and other minor blasts targeted to ISAF soldiers. Calculation on casualties shows that most of the attacks kill civilians or locals rather than foreign ‘enemies’. As it becomes routine, the morning attack didn’t change so much for the people mood. The ladies in our embassy were busier on cooking food [...]

August 31, 2007 // 0 Comments

Kabul – Another Kidnap Attempt

The roads of Kabul look normal today. But with the Korean hostage krisis is still in the air, and also some other foreigner kidnappings, no foreigners are supposed to travel freely on the streets. After the German woman hostage case which already brought earthquake to international media, today there is another similar case, but much more quieter. I received an SMS from a friend: “There has been a shooting within the last 30 minutes in the Qala E Fatullah area in an attempt to kidnap a local businessman. The attempt was believed to have been unsuccessful. However all personnel should be extra vigilant.” 19:51:12 23/08/2007 A local businesswomen interviewed by the TIME said, security in Kabul was merely a joke. In fact, kidnapping is not only towards foreigners. The Christina Meier case went to the news because it was a foreign woman kidnapped. But for local nationals, it’s just a routine occurrence, and this never goes to the news. In recent days, Kabul probably is not anymore a nice place to wander around [...]

August 23, 2007 // 0 Comments

Kabul – Women and Terror

The road of Ghazni, where the incident took place The most recent news brought from the southern part of the country, is the striking hijacking of a bus full of foreigners in Qarabagh district, southern part of Ghazni province, by the Taliban. 18 foreigners on board, all Korean nationals, are taken hostage by the hijackers on 19 July. Among the 18 hostages, 15 of them are females. Initially the people were reported as tourists traveling from Kandahar to go back to Kabul, but later confirmation from the news agency reveals that these Koreans are Christians working as volunteers for a Christian missionary group, Saemmul Community Church in Bundang south of Seoul. These people entered Afghanistan on July 13 and were supposed to return home right after they arrive in Kabul. But the incident on their way to Kabul not only delayed their return, but also put a big question mark on their live survival. This is the largest-scale abduction conducted by the Taliban after 2001. The spokesman of Taliban urged the South Korean government to pull out its 200 troops in the Islamic Republic; otherwise these hostages would be slaughtered. Today I saw from BBC News the Korean newspapers showing [...]

July 21, 2007 // 0 Comments

Shakhimardan – An Uzbek Island Surrounded by Kyrgyz Mountains

Shakhimardan, an Uzbek “island” surrounded by Kyrgyzstan As artificial as any other thing in Central Asia was the border lines between the countries. The nations created by the Soviet rulers now had to be provided their homeland. Stalin might say, land populated by most Uzbek should be Uzbekistan, those inhabited by mostly Mongoloid Kyrgyz then became Kazakhstan (the Kazakh was called as Kyrgyz) and Kyrgyzstan (of which people was called as Black Kyrgyz). But the matter was not simple in the Ferghana Valley. Ferghana Valley was always a boiling pot in Central Asia. The people were renowned as deeply religious Muslim, if not fundamentalist. It was more than necessary for the Russian to divide this huge mass with the highest population density all over Central Asia. Then, besides the division of ethnics (who were Uzbek, who were Kyrgyz, and who were Tajik), there was a clever intrigue by dividing the border lands to divide the people. Then, the identity in Ferghana Valley was not single ‘Islam’ anymore, but new artificial entities of Kyrgyz, Uzbek, and Tajik. But this was not something special if it was just borderlines. Borderlines created by Stalin were so complicated, zigzagging, and nobody understood the reason. [...]

April 7, 2007 // 1 Comment

Kunduz – The Remnants of Guerillas

Security is still a main issue in Afghanistan “Why those commanders haven’t surrendered the weapons yet?” Kunduz is the capital of the Kunduz province, located just 60 km away from the Tajikistan border. Despite the high mountains that lead one to Kunduz from Kabul, Kunduz is a very hot place. The road from Kabul passed through the Salang Tunnel, passing through the stomachs of high mountains that once isolated northern Afghanistan from its central. The tunnels were built in 1960s, before the decades of wars in the country, one of the proofs how prosperous Afghanistan was. The long tunnels, resembled never ending dark caves, were not something to be built by a poor country. When I visited Afghanistan in 2003, the Salang tunnels were closed for reparation, apparently done under foreign reconstruction programs, for several months. The hot weather of Kunduz is comparable to that of Kandahar or Jalalabad, notorious of their heat waves in unforgiving summer peaks. The altituted of Kunduz is merely 400 m, a sudden decrease from the Salang Tunnel which seats on altitude of 3363 m. Kunduz is like the bottom of the plain bowl of Central Asia, with its characterized heat and environment. The people [...]

July 22, 2006 // 1 Comment

Ghazni – From the Glorious Past

The glorious past has gone, forever The glorious past has gone Ghazni is the capital of province of the same name, located north of Zabul province on the Kabul – Kandahar highway. The altitude of slightly more than 2000 m guarantees the temperature in Ghazni is cool. At this moment, Ghazni is among the riskiest provinces in Afghanistan, where Taliban attacks happen in regular basis in the districts of the province. But as everybody tried to convince, the city is a safe place. Shehr Ahmad Haider is a Pajhwok journalist covering the news of the area. His office is a tiny office in a hotel near the bus station to Kandahar. There are two computers in his 3 x 5 m room, and his main weapons of getting news are: two sets of mobile phones and a desktop phone. He never meets Taliban, despite that most of his news dealing with Taliban. Interviews are done through phones. But he is not idle. In fact, to get at least five news per day he has to make many telephone calls and some visits to the Internet Cafe, the only one in the city and costs beautifully at 70 Afs (1.40 US$) [...]

July 16, 2006 // 1 Comment

Kandahar – From the Heartland of the Pashtuns

Pottery making is a traditional industry from Peshawar which still survive till today. “Everything here is expensive. But human life is cheap” Kandahar, the second biggest city of Afghanistan, had been lingering in the legends of the country since centuries ago. The description of old folklores about the heatwaves, about the tough desert, and about the hospitality of the Pashtun tribes are still up to date, but no doubt, the prolonged wars and the spread of fundamentalism has changed the face of the city. Living in Kandahar at this peak of the trend “war on terror” is overwhelmed by the concern of security problems. Suicide bombs can happen anywhere, and random shootings on street may deliver hot bullets just next to your feet. Taliban is the one who is always blamed to be the cause of everything, but nobody does really know who was the real actor behind all of the terrors. The politics in Afghanistan is complicated. Not only religious extrimists (thus those who always lay religion as the excuse of everything), manyu foreign nations also have importance and play in Afghan internal politics. Unexpected things can happen here on daily basis The Kandahar life has changed since, and [...]

July 10, 2006 // 2 Comments