Shelling mars Eid-Al-Adha celebrations in Kabul

Update Shelling mars Eid-Al-Adha celebrations in Kabul
A member of the Afghan security forces keeps watch at the site of an attack in Kabul on Tuesday, August 21. (Reuters)
Updated 21 August 2018

Shelling mars Eid-Al-Adha celebrations in Kabul

Shelling mars Eid-Al-Adha celebrations in Kabul
  • As the smoke and dust caused by gunfire and explosions settled down, people poured back on to the streets to visit family members, relatives and friends as part of Eid celebrations
  • Although Kabul has been the scene of repeated deadly suicide attacks for years and has come under small-scale and occasional rocket strikes every other six months, Tuesday’s raid was a blow due to the number of mortars fired and their proximity

 

KABUL: Many people had just finished the special Eid Al-Adha prayers in mosques in Kabul on Tuesday when mortar shells began landing one after another in various parts of the city’s central areas.

Some ran for cover, others opted not to leave their homes as the sporadic shelling was punctuated with intense fire exchange and happened not far from the presidential palace where President Ashraf Ghani delivered his Eid speech.

There appeared to be no casualties, except for some wounded in Tuesday’s attacks, which were conducted from a motel and with the palace seemingly the target.

Although Kabul has been the scene of repeated deadly suicide attacks for years and has come under small-scale and occasional rocket strikes every other six months, Tuesday’s raid was a blow in terms of the number of mortars fired and its proximity.

For the older generation of Afghanistan, the strike was a bitter reminder of the 1990s when a major part of the city was reduced to rubble due to factional fighting for its control.

The attack is a new development that coincides with increasing violence in the country despite the presence of US-led troops and the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars since the fall of the Taliban in late 2001.

The Taliban insurgents later denied involvement in Tuesday's attack. Suspicion fell on Daesh and possibly on factions who see their survival in chaos in Afghanistan.

The growing activity of Daesh and its ability to conduct such a brazen strike further adds to the complexity of the war — and to the concern of ordinary Afghans.

The attack also shows another intelligence failure on the part of the government, which has suffered both ground and human losses at the hands of militants in recent months.

As the smoke and dust caused by gunfire and explosions settled down, people poured back on to the streets to visit family members, relatives and friends as part of Eid celebrations.

Many had put on colorful new and ironed shalwar and kameez. Like most deadly attacks conducted in the past, it was business as usual as life returned to normality.

But many asked how long this country, locked in four decades of foreign interventions and civil war, has to suffer? What lies in the future? And why have the US and the West, with all their military might, technology, and supremacy, not managed to bring stability 17 years since the Taliban’s ousting?

“We trust in God as Muslims. We are back on the streets trying to enjoy the Eid and life, but this (war) has lasted too long and do we even know what lies ahead of us? Possibly more violence given the signs of the current situation,” Ahmad Shoaib, a university student, told Arab News.

Agha Gul, a 62-year-old shopkeeper, said that he had not lost hope during the occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union and the following years when the country went into darker days, but now he was fearful about the country’s future.

“Afghanistan has become like a sheep now and there are so many internal and external butchers all trying to get their share.”

Shah Wali, a municipality worker, said that Afghan leaders and the international community were all after their vested interests and only ordinary Afghans were paying the high price of the war.

“These leaders are good at making promises but deliver nothing. Most of them have their families living abroad and when life becomes tough for them, they flee and join their families. The foreign troops are merely watching. It is the ordinary people who suffer the most,” he said.