29 Mar 2014

Two attacks in two days: insurgents target Afghan election

Often the first thing you notice is that Kabul’s abysmal traffic has suddenly gone perceptibly less abysmal. Kabulis soon know. The word soon gets out.

And if you can, you get off the streets regardless of where the attack is happening. You get off them – and fast.

There may well be a secondary attack. And it could be anywhere.

Today it was the Independent Election Commission  attacked first of all. The second major attack in two days and the third in a week. And we would have been there had we not delayed our visit for accreditation to cover the coming poll.

They have a well-oiled reaction here as the Crisis Response Unit puts soldiers and police into the attacks to kill those carrying them out.

The IEC had been due to announce how many polling stations will be open. They cannot now do that as planned.

The sprawling site off the Jalalabad Road in east Kabul is close enough to the international airport to close it down today during the five hours or more that the standoff  went on, stranding at least one leading candidate out of town

So tactically, a headline-grabbing  strategy and actual success in disrupting the campaign.

There was certainly smoke rising from the complex where ballots are stored for the coming poll on Saturday.  We don’t yet know what the wider effect might be from this attack on Saturday’s poll taking place as scheduled.


As the authorities announced that it was over and several gunmen killed – you are reminded of how fragile all this is.

The international media continue to prattle about this election being the “first peaceful transition of power” in this country.

Except it’s not. There’s a war on. Government control of the countryside is limited and getting more so and that war has come to Kabul twice in two days.

And the biggest fragility? It’s not politics at all but money – follow the money.

Watch these Afghan soldiers and police doing their work today in the gunfire and explosions.

All of them recruited, trained, equipped, paid, with western money. The second we in the west fall short on paying once we leave or even before – that’s the second Kabul and the entire country falls into full-scale carnage and not one gunfight off the Jalalabad Road.

Be in no doubt about this. No Afghan is.

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