‘Lately I Feel Like I Have Been Cleaning Up After Attacks a Lot’
Deadliest bombing yet strikes Kabul
Enayatullah Noori, a 30-year-old employee of Roshan, the Afghan telecom, stood outside the site of the explosion, dressed in a traditional Afghan outfit and a brown jacket, covered in blood. “This is not my blood,” he explained. “It’s the blood of my colleagues.”
Noori was on his way to work early Wednesday morning when a truck bomb exploded outside his office in Wazir Akbar Khan, the largely diplomatic area of Kabul. “I was on the stairs when I heard the explosion and was thrown to the ground with its impact,” he recalled.
When Noori gained his composure and got back on his feet, he looked around and realized how fortunate he was to be among the few who survived the explosion. “When I came to my senses, I saw so many of my colleagues injured around me,” he told War Is Boring. “I carried them outside for help.”
Noori’s colleagues are among the 400 civilians injured in the explosion, which has been touted as the worst attack since the U.S. occupation began in 2001. Official figures indicate 85 people died. But considering the location and hour of the attack, some believe this number could be as high as 190 dead, and another 650 injured.
Even as the death tolls increases, no insurgent group has come forward to claim responsibility. The Taliban, which announced its annual spring offensive in April 2017, categorically denied any involvement in the attacks — and even condemned it. “Islamic Emirate condemns every explosion and attack carried out against civilians, or in which civilians are harmed and has no legitimate target,” Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid stated.
It’s worth noting that Islamic State has boosted its presence in Afghanistan and has conducted several complex attacks in Kabul since 2016. In early March 2017, the group had claimed responsibility for a coordinated attack on a military hospital close to the May attack site. The March assault killed 30 people, mostly patients at the hospital.
The following month, U.S. forces dropped a Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, nicknamed “Mother of All Bombs,” on an ISIS stronghold in Nanagarhar province, reportedly destroying the base and killing 39 fighters. Celebratory messages on several pro-ISIS channels raised the possibility that the May attack was in fact in revenge for the MOAB.
At top — damage from the blast in the diplomatic district in Kabul on May 31, 2017. Above — an Afghan mourns after finding out that his brother was killed in the explosion. Ivan Flores photos
A few hours after the attack, the National Directorate of Security — Afghanistan’s spy agency — accused the Pakistan-based Haqqani Network of carrying out the bombing. The NDS also claimed that the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence agency aided the terror group in planning the attack.
This suspicion has undermined the already-fragile relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan. “These terrorists once again proved they don’t represent any religion and they only carry out such coward attacks to please their Pakistani masters which is against all Islamic and human-rights principles,” the NDS stated.
Afghan president Afghan Ghani, in his address to the nation, refused to condemn the attacks. “Condemning is not enough,” he said. “It’s time to take action against terrorists.” Ghani quickly issued several related decrees … and announced the execution of 11 Haqqani and Taliban prisoners.
The president has also reached out his American counterpart for co-operation against insurgency that has been escalating in Afghanistan. Civilian casualties this year are the highest since 2009, the year the United Nations began documenting them.
The United Nations’ 2016 report documented 11,418 conflict-related civilian casualties, including 3,498 killed and 7,920 injured. In the first quarter of this year, there were 715 dead and 1,466 injured. The latest attack is bound to cause a significant spike in the figures, deepening concerns of among Afghans over the stability of the state.
It’s not lost on Afghans that the attack occurred during the holy month of Ramadan and was allegedly perpetrated by a group that avows strong Islamic values. “They are not Muslims — they’re not even humans,” 43-year-old Enayat, who works with the Kabul city government as cleaner, told War Is Boring.
“There is no book — Zabur, Quran, Tawrat or Injil — that asks you to kill people,” Enayat said while standing at the perimeter of the blast site, waiting for permission to start cleaning. “We have so far gathered big and small pieces of glass and shrapnel from the areas surrounding the explosion site. I have been cleaning this city for 13 years now and lately I feel like I have been cleaning up after attacks a lot.”