I’m still on the road trying to make my way back to Jalalabad from a big implementation work group meeting in Lashkar Gah. Step one of the journey back was to hitch a ride to Kandahar where Panjawaii Tim promised to pick me up and take me out to his project HQ in the city. It is a large, comfortable place which has something I have been looking forward to… a few cold beers. The plane was late which was annoying – driving around Kandahar at night is risky even for guys like us.
We were delayed getting across the Tarnak River bridge by an American convoy – the bridge was blown up a few days back and the convoy was trying to maneuver around it in the river bed. Michael Yon has the story about the loss of that vital bridge here. It turns out the delay was a good thing because as we cleared the bridge area and headed towards the city the sky in front of us lit up like a flashbulb. “That’s not good,” said Tim as his cell started to ring. The boys back in the safe house reported a large explosion in the vicinity of the Karzai compound about 300 meters west of our destination. Then we saw two more explosions, an impressive sized blast followed by a huge VBIED sized blast, both looked to be near our safe house. Then Tim’s cell phone went dead, which was completely uncool.
We were entering the city by then and could see an American QRF force racing towards the area where most of the international compounds, Afghan government offices and the main prison are located. Trying to talk your way through police checkpoints as an attack like this unfolds is a bad idea we switched to plan B. Panjawaii Tim knows Kandahar like I know Jalalabad; he started working his way through side streets, which were full of people milling about looking towards the blast clouds. There were lots of broken store windows – in fact all of them were broken as we worked our way parallel to the main road. We did have to stop once to talk our way through a police checkpoint – it is always funny to see the police react when Tim or I walk up in local garb with our international ID’s and tell the chaps we’re ISAF and need to get through. The Afghan security guys have no idea what to make of us and look like their seeing a Jinn or ghosts when we talk to them. Or maybe they think were crazy for even being there – hard to say.
Being out and about in local clothes and a beater truck is a huge risk when these attacks go down. We had to get to our safe house, so we had no choice but to push on and with Panjawaii Tim at the helm we avoided most of the hasty blocking positions thrown up by the security forces. If tonight’s explosion had been followed by some sort of direct fire attack we would have aborted our attempt to get home and headed back to the FOB. When we arrived we found the compound at a “stand to” with all hands armed, alert, and calm.
Here is Panjawaii Tim’s report on the incident:
“The first bomb was at the Al Jadeed market: 10 20 killed, unknown number injured; second was a large bomb at the Sarpoza prison. 20 -30 killed and 100 injured allegedly; third was the bomb near PHQ, unknown number injured/killed; fourth was bomb near Mandigak mosque, unknown number injured killed. First bombs lured the ANP response out of PHQ and then they were hit. US and CDN units seen responding with ANSF assets. No reports of a prison break at this time. We heard Taliban propaganda broadcast over a megaphone in our neighborhood within half our of attacks. Many ambulances and other vehicles seen transporting casualties to Mirwais (Chinese) Hospital.”
You know what all this means? It means no sitting on the roof and drinking cold beers with my buddies. It also means that I have to get up in the middle of the night to pull sentry duty. Fucking Taliban; killing civilians for no damn reason, damaging people’s stores and homes for no damn reason, and spoiling what looked to be a good piss up….again for no damn reason. I hate them.