Friday, September 16, 2011

Attacks on US Embassy in Kabul | Fear and Panic

An Afghan military helicopter fires on a building occupied by 'insurgents' during a coordinated assault in Kabul. Insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles at the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters while suicide bombers struck police buildings. (AP/Musadeq Sadeq)

Jack Healy and Alissa J. Rubin had a couple of articles this week on the coordinated attacks in Kabul. In addition to following the US governments position on those responsible, I noticed they used these quotes a couple of times. Highlighting the different ways Afghans and foreigners see the violence.

To summarize.

The residents of Kabul are mad and afraid, the US Ambassador down-played the violence saying it is a sign of weakness and the new US NATO commander revealed who was responsible and their motives.

We are mad at both,” said Farid Hotak. “At the Taliban for doing these types of attacks, and at the government for failing to prevent them.” Mr. Hotak, who lives in an apartment across the street, seethed at the memory of girls crying and running for cover. “Fear and panic rules,” he said. - Afghan Resident of Kabul

Ryan C. Crocker, played down the attack as “harassment” that had made for a hard day at the embassy but was not a game-changer. “This really is not a very big deal,” Mr. Crocker said. “If that’s the best they can do, you know, I think it’s actually a statement of their weakness.” - US Ambassador

The Haqqanis have been attacking Kabul for a long time because Kabul for so much of this country represents not just the spiritual heartland of this country, it represents the future,” General Allen said at a briefing. - US and NATO Commander

A more detailed account of the day is provided by Fabrizio Foschini, focusing more on the Afghan targets that were hit and the impact it had on the residents. The timeline from Associated Press affirms increasing levels of violence in the city.

Another Longest Day in Kabul

Starting close after 1pm, at least three major attacks rocked a beautiful late summer day in Kabul.

“The objective of the attacks seems clear. The two explosions in West Kabul targeted the Afghan Border Police (ABP) headquarters in Deh Mazang and Afghan National Police (ANP) 202 Shamshad corps headquarters on Darulaman road, near Lycee Habibia. Some police casualties were reported for both attacks, which were apparently suicide bombings (one ANP and two ABP respectively, plus an unknown number of injured civilians and servicemen). As for the complex attack that lasted for most of the afternoon and into the evening, its real dynamics and details are still all but clear. The ultimate target of the commando could have been any (or all) of the locations mentioned in the Taleban statement, that said its fighters ‘attacked the NATO’s ISAF HQ, US embassy and local and foreign intelligence agencies’. At least three rockets are said to have hit close to the US embassy compound, while at least one (unconfirmed) report points at insurgent attempts to breach the embassy's outer security perimeter from different points (this matches other equally unconfirmed reports of more insurgents moving in the area, apart from those barricaded in the building under construction).

Be as it is, a Taleban attack inside Kabul in itself did not come as a big surprise, although its intensity and scope was unexpected. According to a generally accepted interpretation, the pattern of insurgent attacks inside Kabul has reached a frequency of around one attack in every three weeks. Special occasions or events can further add to this number. The present situation, with the anniversaries of last week, accounted for both eventualities, and many were waiting in trepidation for something to happen.”

Timeline| Recent Attacks in Kabul


—Sept. 13: Taliban insurgents fire rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles at the U.S. Embassy, NATO headquarters and other buildings.

—Aug. 19: Taliban suicide bombers storm the British Council, an international charity, killing eight people during an eight-hour firefight as two English language teachers and their bodyguard hid in a locked panic room.

—July 17: Gunmen strapped with explosives kill a close adviser to President Hamid Karzai and a member of parliament. Jan Mohammed Khan was an adviser to Karzai on tribal issues and was close to the president, a fellow Pashtun.

—June 29 — Nine insurgents armed with bomb vests, rifles and rocket launchers storm the Inter-Continental Hotel, killing at least 12 people and holding off NATO and Afghan forces for five hours.

—June 18: Insurgents wearing Afghan army uniforms storm a police station near the presidential palace and open fire on officers, killing nine.

—May 21: A suicide bomber wearing an Afghan soldier uniform slips inside the main military hospital in Kabul and kills six Afghan medical students.

—April 27: A veteran Afghan military pilot opens fire at the Kabul airport, killing eight U.S. troops and an American civilian contractor.

—April 18: A suicide attacker sneaks past security at the Afghan Defense Ministry, killing two Afghan soldiers and fatally wounding an Afghan army officer.

—Feb. 14: A suicide bomber attacks Kabul's first Western-style shopping mall, killing two security guards at the entrance.

—Jan. 28: A suicide bomber attacks inside a Western-style supermarket, killing eight.

—Jan. 12: A suicide bomber on a motorbike targets a minibus carrying Afghan intelligence employees, killing at least two and wounding more than 30.


—Dec. 19: Two insurgents strapped with explosives ambush a bus carrying Afghan army officers to work, killing five and wounding nine.

—Nov. 12: A suicide attacker strikes an American convoy, killing one civilian.

—Aug. 10: Two suicide bombers attack a private security company building, killing two company drivers.

—June 2: Insurgents fire rockets at the site of a national peace conference, where Taliban fighters wearing suicide vests battle security forces. Two militants are killed.

—May 18: A Taliban suicide bomber attacks a NATO convoy, killing 18 people including five American troops and a Canadian soldier.

—April 19: An explosion at an Afghan National Army facility just outside the capital kills an American soldier.

—Feb. 26: Suicide attackers strike two residential hotels, killing 20 people, including seven Indians.

—Jan. 26: A suicide car bomber strikes a barrier outside a U.S. base in Kabul, wounding six Afghans and eight American troops.

—Jan. 18: A team of suicide bombers and gunmen target government buildings, leaving 12 dead, including seven attackers.

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