Posts Tagged ‘Kabul’
A suicide bomber yesterday killed 17 people, including five US soldiers and eight British and American civilian contractors, when he drove a minibus packed with explosives into the side of a military bus in Kabul in one of the deadliest attacks inside the city since the conflict began.
The explosion hurled the heavily armoured bus into the air, engulfing it in a fireball as it travelled in a convoy of armoured vehicles towards a nearby Nato base in the southwest of the Afghan capital.
Thick black smoke poured from the side of the bus as it lay on its side opposite Kabul’s American University and Darulaman palace, the bombed-out seat of Afghanistan’s former kings and presidents.
The victims included five American soldiers, a Canadian soldier, five American civilian contractors, two British contractors, an Afghan policeman and three Afghan civilians. Two children were among the wounded.
Ambulances and fire engines sped to the scene as Nato soldiers treated some of the casualties. The twisted frame of a motorcycle lay among the charred metal fragments that littered the road.
“There was a huge explosion and I turned to see a massive cloud of smoke rising into the air,” said Mokhtar Aria, who works as a mechanic. “The bus was on fire. I watched them pulling the bodies from it.”
Two Nato helicopters landed to evacuate the dead and wounded to a military hospital near Kabul. Later, witnesses saw US soldiers carry three black body bags from the bus before lifting out another badly charred body from the burnt-out wreckage.
Another witness said he saw the badly charred bodies of US soldiers inside the military bus, known as a Rhino because of its heavy armour. In accordance with usual practice, none of the military victims has been named.
Throughout yesterday, French and American bomb disposal units conducted a forensic examination of the area while Afghan intelligence officials scoured the site for evidence. A military guard dog was also killed in the blast.
As Nato cordoned off the surrounding streets, the wounded were rushed to Kabul’s Estiqlal hospital. Among them was Ali Ahmad, 9, who was yesterday recovering.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, although in the past the Haqqani network, the most lethal insurgent force in Afghanistan, has been blamed for similar high-profile attacks in the capital. Read the rest of this entry »
Gunmen wearing suicide vests shot dead a presidential advisor and an Afghan politician at a house in Kabul last night.
The two gunmen stormed into the house of the former governor of Uruzgan, Jan Mohammed Khan, at 8pm on Sunday night as both men were sitting down to dinner.
The attackers shot and killed the governor’s bodyguards at the gate before storming into the house and executing Mohammed Khan and the MP, Mohammed Watanwal as they sat talking together on the floor of one of the rooms, according to a detective who arrived at the scene shortly after the killings.
Police then surrounded the house in Kabul’s peaceful Kart-e-Char district, triggering a gun battle that raged into the early hours of Monday morning.
Policemen shot and killed one attacker before the other blew himself up. Three policemen were also killed in the fire-fight.
President Hamid Karzai relied on Mohammed Khan, who was a close friend of his, for advice.
His death comes less than a week after Ahmad Wali Karzai, the president’s half-brother, in Kandahar City.
“We are under siege,” said Mahmoud Karzai, the president’s brother, speaking shortly after escaping a suicide bombing at a mosque in Kandahar last week.
The bomb, which the attacker placed in his turban to avoid security, exploded six metres from Mahmoud and three of his brothers at the funeral ceremony of their half-brother, Ahmad Wali, who was killed on Tuesday by a close friend.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the killing of Mohammed Khan and the MP Watanwal, accusing the former of passing information about insurgent locations to Nato troops.
Mohammed Khan was a former mujahideen and militia commander in the southern province of Uruzgan. He was a close friend of the president’s father. Khan, with the help of American Special Forces, was also instrumental in helping President Karzai return to Afghanistan after 9/11.
For more information on Khan’s past and his ties to the Karzai family read this blog on the Afghan Analysts Network website.
Afghanistan’s finance minister has received death threats over his handling of a banking crisis that has mired Kabul’s political elite in accusations of corruption and fraud.
Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal told American and European ambassadors in a meeting earlier this year that the threats on his life had forced him to move members of his family abroad.
Zakhilwal is currently under intense pressure from the International Monetary Fund to find a way out of a scandal that implicates Kabul’s ruling class in a case of fraud totalling almost $1 billion.
This week, the finance minister ordered a forensic audit of Kabul Bank, which handled the salaries of 300,000 soldiers, policemen and civil servants.
The investigation threatens to reveal in detail how the bank’s senior executives and shareholders, who include the brothers of both the president and vice-president, used Afghanistan’s largest private bank like a personal slush fund.
Afghan and Western officials describe how Afghanistan’s largest private bank, which nearly collapsed in September after allegations of insider lending were made public, was run as a “ponzi scheme”.
They say documents reveal how its politically connected shareholders and directors took money from the bank to buy a string of luxury villas in Dubai and two shopping centres in Kabul. Read the rest of this entry »
The windowless cell was bare apart from a single bed. The prisoner, a former British Army officer, shuffled through the door, his hands and legs bound in chains that clanged against the metal bars. His Afghan guards had stripped him of his possessions, leaving him with little more than a bar of soap and some toothpaste.
“When I saw what my life had become it absolutely broke my heart. It was like Guantanamo Bay,” said Bill Shaw, his voice breaking with emotion.
Shaw, who was appointed an MBE after serving as a military policeman in Bosnia, Colombia and Iraq, had been locked in a prison packed with Afghan drug smugglers. “They gave me a brown uniform to wear. The only things I was allowed to keep were my socks and underpants,” he said.
It is nearly two months since Shaw, a manager with a security company that protects the British embassy in Kabul, was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for allegedly bribing an Afghan intelligence agent, a crime he insists he did not commit.
In his first interview since he was detained, Shaw, a father of three children, revealed he had spent the first weeks in solitary confinement. He has since been moved to the maximum-security wing of Kabul’s most notorious jail, Pul-e-Charkhi, where he is serving his sentence within spitting distance of murderers and militants.
Last week I met Shaw in Pul-e-Charkhi after passing through six security barriers. I introduced myself and he said he was glad to be meeting a reporter from his favourite newspaper. He looked dishevelled. Flecks of grey tinged the tips of his short beard. He wore traditional Afghan clothes and said he was growing the beard to blend in.
His ordeal began last October when two of his company’s cars were impounded by the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, for not having proper licence plates. Read the rest of this entry »
The Sunday Times
TALIBAN insurgents who have infiltrated Kabul are nailing “night letters” to the doors of policemen, soldiers and government workers, warning them to leave their jobs or face punishment.
The militants are being welcomed in the Afghan capital’s poorer areas among inhabitants who are disaffected with corruption, and who supply them with food, cash and weapons.
Safe houses and bomb-making workshops have begun to appear in run-down districts close to the city centre as the militants increase their presence and plot attacks on prominent local targets.
“They know who we are, where we live and what we do,” said Dr Ehsan Anwari, who used to work as an Afghan army medic and now runs a clinic in Company district, where Highway One, the main road from Kandahar to the south, enters the capital. “Whenever we hear shooting we think that the Taliban are taking over the district by force. We are afraid.”
Described by one police officer as a den of vice, Company district is a warren of tightly packed, single- storey houses and mud-caked, narrow streets. Last month, the Taliban tried to blow up the house of Anwari’s brother, a police officer, by pouring petrol through his front gate. The policeman grabbed his gun and opened fire. His attackers fled but he found mortar rounds, explosives and ammunition by the gate. Read the rest of this entry »