In Afghanistan, we have Friday—the Islamic day of prayer—as a holiday (since a month ago, we've had holidays on Thursday too due to terrible air pollution). On January 28, I was having lovely Friday holiday with my family, sitting inside a warm room drinking tea, when I suddenly got a call from my Danish friend at around 3 p.m. My friend said there had been an explosion in a supermarket.
I was shocked—why would the Insurgents would target a supermarket? But soon I realized that they might have targeted a supermarket which is popular among foreign nationals. Soon after, I was watching the horrible footage of the incident on TV.
I started my car and drove to the site of the incident, in the wealthy neighborhood of Wazir Akbar Khan, close to many foreign embassies. When I got there, I saw that the target of the insurgent was the Finest Supermarket, one of a chain of western-style stores mostly visited by foreigners. Even our bureau chief does most of his shopping in Finest, but in another branch. I myself had been in this very supermarket many times.
The street leading to the supermarket was covered with broken glass from the windows of adjacent shops. It was a frightening scene. I could see fear in the faces all the people who had shops in the nearby area.
Dozens of security personnel—both Afghans and foreign private security guards—were present in the area. This suicide attack claimed the lives of fourteen people and injured many more. An entire Afghan family of six died in the blast, which also killed three other Afghan civilians and five foreigners. Dr. Massoud Yama, his wife Hamida Barmaki—a human rights activist—and their four children all died.
The Taliban insurgents who are fighting against the international and Afghan forces took the credit for the attack. The Taliban claimed the target was an official of the American security company that used to be called Blackwater.
Inside, the shop was burned down. The owner said the attacker used two grenades before blowing himself up. He said five of his workers are injured.
The presence of too many security personal is risky because insurgents sometimes re-attack a site. I pulled out my small digital camera and took some pictures, but I was not allowed to take pictures of inside shop.
My Friday holiday became a sad Friday when fourteen people lost their lives.
This blast disrupted the calmness of Kabul City, which fortunately has become much safer in the last few months. But terrorists do not want Afghans to live in peace and security. We Afghans pray for an end to all of this violence in our country.
I have been working with the international media over the last ten years, ever since the fall of the Taliban regime. I love my work and want to tell as many of the uncovered realities of my society as I can, despite the many challenges on this path.
Free press is a new phenomenon in Afghan society; we did not have press freedom under the Taliban or the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. Luckily we have some freedom now—but our situation remains fragile. Journalists have been targeted both by the Afghan government and the insurgents, especially those who work with the international media. Working with our international colleagues has become extremely risky lately, and I have lost few colleagues over the last few years. Still, we must continue on this path. We must not afraid of those who create obstacles.
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