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Friday, November 18, 2005

Kabul Diary

Internet is finally up again.

I drove around Kabul most of the day today. There is a considerable amount of building and new business in the city compared to my last visit in March 2002. The neighborhood, from the backside of the TV tower all the way to the King's Palace, is considerably more populated now, decades after the factional war between the mujahadeen tore apart those neighborhoods. Our local driver says that the the city is over four million people, compared to a million or so at the close of the Taliban regime. ISAF patrols (Norwegian, German and British) continue to criss-cross the city. And we drove down the busy Jalalabad Road as well, the location of both suicide bombs a few days ago.

Yesterday I met and interviewed Afghan Defense Minister Wardok at the Afghan Ministry of Defense. Besides practical reasons to have western weapons, Minister Wardok makes a emotional appeal for US/Nato weapons to replace the Soviet/Russian arms currently in the Afghan National Army (ANA) arsenal, insisting the AK, PK and RPG are the arms of Afghanistan's recent violent past and it is time for a change.

Kabul Diary

Internet is finally up again.

I drove around Kabul most of the day today as well. There is a considerable amount of building and business in the city compared to my last visit in March 2002. The neighborhood, from the backside of the TV tower all the way to the King's Palace, is considerably more populated now, decades after the factional war between the mujahadeen tore apart those neighborhoods. ISAF patrols (Norwegian, German and British) continue to criss-cross the city. And we drove down the busy Jalalabad Road as well, the location of both suicide bombs a few days ago.

Yesterday I met and interviewed Afghan Defense Minister Wardok at the Afghan Ministry of Defense. Besides practical reasons to have western weapons, Minister Wardok makes a emotional appeal for US/Nato weapons to replace the Soviet/Russian arms currently in the Afghan National Army (ANA) arsenal, insisting the AK, PK and RPG are the arms of Afghanistan's recent violent past and it is time for a change.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Last night, my first night in Kabul, a rocket struck just outside the compound. I think I heard it, and I definitely heard the alarm in my sleep, but I guess I was pretty out of it as it didn't even register with me until I heard others talking about it today. Locals said it was likely a 107mm rocket.

There was another suicide bomb today, this time in Kandahar. The news reported another four Afghan dead as a result. It is sad to hear about suicide bombers and based on traditional Afghan warrior culture, of which suicide bombing is not a tradition, it is a fair bet that those behind the bombings are foreign. It could be that there is an element of the local population being radicalized into such acts but again, this would likely lead back to a foreign element.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Kabul

I arrived in Kabul today from Bagram via a UH-60 Blackhawk courtesy of the US Army. It does feel different than my last trip here in 2002. I noticed brand new looking wells off the side of the road and locals pumping water. Local business also seems to be thriving, but that is a first impression.

The day before, on Monday, there were two suicide bombs here in the capital resulting in a handful of dead including one German ISAF soldier. I haven't seen the news coverage but word is that, in the first case, a car either backed up or hit the brakes, causing a collision with an ISAF vehicle behind. German soldiers then got out to sort out the accident and the bomber blew himself and the car up when the ISAF patrol was along side the vehicle--killing one German soldier. As we arrived on the tarmac a plane prepared to take off with German soldiers also wounded in the attack .

The other bomber appears to have been a person on bike.

Suicide bombing does not really have a precedent here in Afghanistan, so the incidents on Monday are disturbing. As is the case in Iraq as well, it is the local population that suffers the most casualties.