My dream with journalism is to travel to the frontiers and send their stories to breakfast tables thousands of miles away. Join me for my first chapter, in Afghanistan, summer 2006. These are my letters to you.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Bomb Blasts Rattle Kabul's Calm

The damaged Ministry of Commerce bus in north Kabul. (AFP photo)

The streets are quieter than usual in the Afghan capital of Kabul after it was rocked by four roadside bombs in the past 24 hours. No one has yet taken responsibility for the bombs, which targeted the Ministry of Justice, a bus carrying Afghan Army recruits and another bus carrying workers for the Ministry of Commerce.

Two bombs exploded Tuesday, while another two ripped through separate busses within ten minutes of each other on Wednesday morning. Initial reports indicate that two people were killed in today’s blasts, while dozens were injured.

At the scene of the first explosion in the city center Wednesday morning, a vegetable cart lies in cinders. The yellow wall of the building behind it is pockmarked with shrapnel. Kids have gathered to stare at the damage. Ilias, a shopkeeper nearby who goes by only one name, saw it all happen.

He watched as the explosion hit the bus, which then spun out of control and crashed into a shop selling gas cylinders, causing a fire which burned for an hour.

“The sound was very loud,” he said. “Flames leapt 20 meters into the air. The enemies of Afghanistan are many. This is a place of war and there will be many dead in the future.”

Shir Mohammed was across the street making flatbread in his bakery. He said he saw the bus explode and skid into the shops 20 meters away.

“When the bomb exploded the driver was badly burnt and couldn’t control the bus,” he said. “He crashed into the shops. Around eight or nine people were badly burned.”

Ten minutes later, at 7:40, a second explosion hit a bus in northern Kabul carrying Ministry of Commerce officials to work. Dil Agha, a butcher, was cutting up meat in his shop when it happened. He said he saw one person dead and several injured.

“I was scared, why wouldn’t I be?” he said. “The one who died had a hole in his chest. The others had their hands and faces destroyed.”

Both of the bombs were believed to have been hidden on roadside carts, and their explosions were not very powerful.

Tuesday, a bomb exploded at roughly 12:10 in the afternoon outside the Ministry of Justice, injuring seven, Afghan police said at the scene.

The bomb appeared to have missed its target and was not very powerful, as no one was killed. Still, the windows of the several-story Ministry of Justice building were shattered from the blast and a corner police observation point was ripped to splinters.

Workers were working to clean up the area three hours after the explosion, piling up the shards of glass for removal. On the sidewalk a dark stain of blood spilled into the gutter where it was lost in rubbish. Tight-lipped policemen cordoned off the scene, hitting people with lengths of rubber to disperse the crowd.

The seven injured were rushed to Emergency Hospital in Shahre Nau for treatment.

Today the streets of Kabul are quieter than usual, and convoys of Afghan police can be seen zipping through the traffic. The backs of their pickups are filled with Kalashnikov-wielding policemen. The Afghan Army has positioned soldiers at roundabouts throughout the city.

However, to most residents of this city desensitized by 25 years of continuous war, life goes on as normal. A mere 50 meters from this morning’s first bomb scene, people can be found haggling for spices and selling watermelons.

At each bomb scene, the cleanup was fast and thorough. Yet, the attacks have broken the relative calm that Kabul has enjoyed as the Taliban’s insurgency gains momentum in the south of the country. It is unclear which way the situation will turn from here.


Blogger Harms Way said...

Well done Jacob!
As an American living in Europe I am thankful for your efforts to educate the average American to the beauty of peoples in lands like these. I hope you reach more than a few and stay safe. Keep up the good work, honour Marco and Vaya con Dios!

2:35 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home