You know what's weird. Watching mortars go off and listening to gunfire in some far off country on CNN, and realizing that you're sitting right in the middle of it all. Insurgents launched a coordinated attack against a number of targets in Kabul, including NATO headquarters, where I am, to kick off the spring fighting season. Mostly small arms fire RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) and mortars. Heck, in Kandahar province that would barely rate stopping a gym workout. It must have been a slow news day, or the middle of the night back home, because there was lots of coverage on CNN, an BBC and Al-Jazeera. I don't know how many times I've seen similar footage in Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Palestine, Iraq. But this time it was like "Hey, there's the market I go to."
CNN was pretty breathless about the whole thing. You'd think the Taliban had taken Kabul. But from a military perspective, it was an abysmal effort. The objective of the mission wasn't really military though. The insurgents—including primarily the Taliban and the Haqqani network—are basically trying to carry off "spectacular attacks" in Kabul as a propaganda tool. It's to try to convince people that they are more effective than they actually are, and to degrade the Afghan people's tenuous notion of stability.
Afghan security forces dealt with the attack and ISAF (NATO) quick reaction forces were not needed.
A big thank you to all those who contacted me to see if I was OK.
A couple of days earlier myself and a couple of friends were wandering down Chicken Street and Flower Street—the main shopping district in downtown Kabul, and what used to be a tourist hub. It was a nice day and I thought there'd be lots of folks perhaps from the embassies and the various non-governmental organizations doing the tourist thing, but we were the only ones. I think a lot of the Afghans were kind of shocked to see us moseying about actually. They just stared at us. Except the kids. We had a gaggle of them dancing around us half the time.
Anyways, I managed to snap off a couple of shots, but they are quite leery of cameras here. I put it away after an Afghan soldier got a little irate with me, and counted myself lucky to still have a camera.
|Chicken Street, Downtown Kabul|
|Chicken Street Again.|
|At the Kabul Bookstore.|
|Typical "subdivision" in Kabul.|
Only a month to go to R&R back in Canada, in mid-May, so I'm looking forward immensely to seeing my family, playing some soccer, and having a beer or three with my mates. Counting the days.