Video shot from our office
So I suppose I should blog about today. I was sitting with my colleague, Jeff, working in our office at around 1pm when there was one of those booms that Kabul knows so well. I went out to the terrace, while Jeff filmed out the window. Soon bullets were cracking over our heads and I got down into the mechanic’s car pit underneath our office. Jeff, being the bulldog to my pansy, kept filming.
I tweeted away as best I could, gathering news for my fellow bunker-dwellers. Soon Jeff came down with excellent footage of ISAF soldiers hammering away at the attackers. It seems that up to fourteen suicide bombers were in the city, while perhaps hundreds of Taliban fighters had taken up position around the city.
Some were in a shopping mall at a nearby traffic circle, some were in a hotel construction site near the US embassy. ISAF HQ is between the traffic circle and the embassy, so we were getting the crossfire. We were also a target, as one of the main sources of firepower in the area.
I watched the footage and saw rockets come in, a suicide bomber detonate by the wall and soldiers spotting snipers’ muzzle flash from the shopping mall. I heard and felt huge blasts as well as mortars coming in. The pressure wave from a bomb is very different from that of a rocket. I felt at least two bombs and the rest were rockets. The surrounding walls of ISAF sounded like the soldiers were firing everything they had.
Having watched all of Jeff’s video, we sent him up onto the roof, while I was escorted back into the office (staying well away from the windows) by my new friend, Scott - ex-navy, big, brawny and with an air about him that meant the soldiers looking after the bunker didn’t put me back down there.
I started editing from under the desk while the boys outside were lighting it up more than ever. Booms, blasts and a lot of rapid fire. Thankfully there were no bombs close enough to smash out our windows.
I scuttled out to the roof every so often to take Jeff and the soldiers water, snacks and sodas as well as fresh memory cards and batteries. Looking out the window I saw buildings on fire and the soldiers on our wall bobbing up and down trying to avoid snipers. One marine almost got shot in the face. The US army guy next to him took an RPG wielder out, or so he said later.
Jeff, meanwhile, was doing his own bobbing up and down as an RPG flew right over his head. I made sure to put that into the edit as well. I started to hear that there were more attacks over to the west of the city near parliament, as well as in the centre. If all the rumours were true - this was the biggest complex attack Kabul had ever witnessed.
Finally we heard Apache helicopters fly overhead and the whooping of soldiers as they strafed the shopping mall. Being a crowded city, though, there was only so much they could do. Then it started raining, the firing quietened down and the call to prayer started. It was a very strange thing to hear.
We heard about casualties - one policeman here, an Afghan journalist there. Many wounded, no doubt, but until the dust settles, we won’t know.
After dinner time (provided by our protecting soldiers with the greatest of charm and politeness), there were some more blasts and rapid burst of fire as well as illuminating rockets going up and lighting up the hills around.
It’s now 10pm and there’s still no let up. The remaining Taliban fighters are in the shopping mall right near our compound. I’m in my office being eaten by mosquitos and writing this. Today’s a publicity campaign by the Taliban - they want to show how they can attack the city whenever and wherever they want. It’s rare that they attack more than one spot and even more rare that they can keep it going for so long.
When the dust settles, we’ll see.
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