Axeghanistan Day Seven: Taliban Are Jerks

18.06.07

Categorie: Afghanistan, Axe in Afghanistan '07 |

I had just finished interviewing an Australian engineer about a reconstruction project at a boys’ school in Tarin Kowt when there was a thunderclap. Debris hurtled into the air in a column of smoke a couple blocks away. And I thought, “Suicide bomber.”

Just a few minutes earlier, I’d been out on the street outside the school with some Australian soldiers. Glancing left I’d glimpsed a Dutch patrol idling in armored personnel carriers and trucks outside a girls’ school. It was International Women’s Day, so the Dutch had hauled some of their national media to a ceremony with local ladies.

Back at the boys’ school, my heart sank when I connected the dots: The Taliban had blown up Women’s Day. At a school. For girls.

The Aussies had their armor and helmets on and their weapons ready. They were itching to help. But the order came from higher to stay put (see photo below). The Dutch quick-reaction force was on the way and they didn’t need extra people getting in the way. Over the next hour or so information trickled in. Three Dutch soldiers were hurt. Now one was dead. There were four dead Afghans, now ten. Many of them were children. Later, we patrolled around the blast site, where a small crowd of grieving Afghans had gathered. And that night, we all jumped when Dutch artillery started firing in the distance.

australian-engineers-work-on-a-boys-school-in-tarin-kowt-on-june-15-2007-the-smoke-is-from-a-nearby-suicide-bombing.jpgIt was a full day before I got back to Kamp Holland. It turned out that the suicide bombing was just a prelude to a major Taliban offensive. Hundreds of fighters had poured down the mountains to hit Dutch and Afghan army checkpoints in nearby Chura. The Dutch fought back with everything in their arsenal: the cannon, their Apache gunships and even F-16s from Kandahar. I climbed a hill to the artillery firing position and watched them fire off a few rounds. The gunners ate ice cream between fire missions and helped me position my cameras for the best shots.

Before bed I checked out some footage shot by a Dutch reporter in the bombed convoy. You could see Dutch medics desperately doing chest compressions on their dying friend. A runner, scurrying between vehicles to deliver messages, had to leap over a pile of children’s body parts.

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6 Responses to “Axeghanistan Day Seven: Taliban Are Jerks”

  1. Brian H says:

    Where are the pix you shot?

    Reminds me of the girls school they had all wired up to blow after the building was completed; a hawkeye soldier noticed the det wire running into the building, though. Base-turds.

  2. Max Anderson says:

    As it looks , I see some casualties. The targetted girls school data , I read up on it. What are the taliban thinking. The bus bombing that I spoke of in The Kansas City Star seems politically motivated since it is mainly dutch funded aimed at re-education of women , as the prior taliban rejime forced illiteracy and non-learning through thier reign. A definite counter offensive. It looks like your rebiulding project was tergetted as well. I am glad you are still around David. They may have been reading your blogs to know your location. Just be carefull.As always, Keep Your Head Up. A simple team of rebuilders can simply go back in and rebuild again and agin untill the taliban get the message , we are here to stay, we will fight back, and we will not tolerate their subversive activities. It must have been hard for you to not retaliate after all of the hard work. Just be advised those scumbags talibans are gonna get theirs , one by one, it’s just a matter of when and where. Max

  3. [...] 700 Australian troops are based alongside the Dutch at Kamp Holland, but most of them appear to have played only a minor role in the fighting. One Aussie was part of the mostly Dutch patrol that was targeted by a suicide bomber in the opening salvo of the battle, according to Tom Hyland at the Australian Sunday Age newspaper. I myself accompanied Aussie forces patrolling Tarin Kowt in the aftermath of the bombing, by which point the fighting had moved to nearby Chura. Aussie special forces were involved in the Chura fighting, Hyland writes: In fierce fighting, Dutch, Afghan and Australian forces, backed by air strikes and artillery, foiled an attempt by 500 Taliban fighters to overrun the isolated town of Chora, north of Tarin Kowt, Dutch armed forces chief General Dick Berlijn told reporters. A small Dutch force based in the town held out despite being outnumbered by the Taliban, who killed civilians, including women, who refused to join them, General Berlijn said. Coalition forces then counter-attacked, with Dutch troops and Australian special forces fighting “close and intense street combat” before the Taliban retreated. [...]

  4. [...] The June 15 Taliban-orchestrated suicide bombing at a U.N. International Women’s Day event in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan, that killed 11 Afghan children and one Dutch soldier was entirely preventable with well-established procedures. And even if the bombing itself weren’t preventable, Private Timo Smeehuyzen’s death perhaps was. The 20-year-old Amsterdam native — the first of two Dutch fatalities in the five-day battle that began with the attack – might have survived if the bombed patrol had asked for assistance, had followed U.S. and Australian ambush-reaction tactics or had been fully equipped with blast-proof trucks.   [...]

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