by UNA MOORE
Among the 18 people killed in yesterday morning’s Taliban attacks in Kabul were six Indians, most of them aid workers murdered in two guesthouses. It was the second time in less than a year foreigners were deliberately targeted in an early-morning attack designed to cause maximum carnage and fear.
Some of the Indians were doctors doing medical relief at a children’s hospital in Kabul. Others worked for an organization that provides livelihood support to poor women and war widows. When the attacks begun, most of the aid workers were still asleep, just as the residents of the Bakhtar Guesthouse had been before a similar attack claimed the lives of five U.N. election workers last November and prompted the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan to relocate half of its foreign staff to more secure locations outside Kabul.
Like the Bakhtar attack before it, yesterday’s attacks may squeeze tighter the space in which foreign aid workers operate, but it’s too soon to tell yet.
I went to the attack site last night with some friends and snapped one blurry photo before the security forces drove me away. Sixteen hours after the attacks began, the area was as quiet as a tomb.
The tall trees in Share Naw Park lean in the same direction now, so powerful was the blast from the car bomb that destroyed the first guesthouse attacked. A posse of plucky child beggars often works thatstreet. Were they out when the bombs went off? If the windows of the MTN mobile phone company building on the other side of the park were blown in, what happened to the human flesh in between? The attacks began early; perhaps no one was out yet.
The small clothing boutiques where I bought sweaters and scarves earlier this week had their storefronts ripped open. Everything is charred, crumpled and bent. The neighborhood that to me symbolized benign, ordinary Kabul is strewn with the debris of thousands of shattered windows.
“Let’s pray for the people who died here,” said one of my friends as we surveyed the destruction. I closed my eyes. Everyone knows yesterday’s attack will not be the last, and yesterday’s victims will be followed by others. No one knows how any of this ends.