[Marxism] Celebrating Afghan Independence Day

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Aug 19 06:53:26 MDT 2011


Insurgents storm British compound in Kabul
By Joshua Partlow, Updated: Friday, August 19, 8:38 AM

KABUL — Taliban insurgents blew up a truck outside the British 
cultural center in Kabul, then stormed the compound and fought a 
gun battle for more than five hours with Afghan security forces 
trying to dislodge them.

The violence left at least eight people dead and 12 wounded, 
including several Afghan policemen, officials said, and it came on 
the anniversary of Afghanistan’s 1919 independence from Britain. 
News services reported that as many as 10 were killed, including 
eight Afghan policemen, an Afghan municipal worker and a security 
guard whose nationality was not immediately clear. The radical 
Islamist Taliban movement claimed responsibility for the assault.

Hundreds of Afghan police and soldiers, along with British, 
American and French troops, surrounded the gray concrete-walled 
British Council as smoke billowed from one of its buildings.

Britain’s Foreign Office later said that all the attackers were 
killed and that no British nationals were hurt. Alistair Burt, 
minister for the Middle East in the Foreign Office, condemned the 
attack as “despicable” and vowed that Britain would not be deterred.

The first explosion occurred at 6:00 a.m. in the Kart-e-Parwan 
neighborhood of the Afghan capital. A second, smaller blast from a 
suicide bomber followed soon after, and other insurgents entered 
the compound. A gas station attendant working across the divided 
highway from the British Council, where British employees work 
alongside Nepalese guards known as Gurkhas, said he saw the first 
Afghan police truck arrive and then saw two of the policemen get 
shot and fall to the ground.

Over the next several hours, there were many bursts of gunfire and 
at least two more explosions as Afghan police commandos attempted 
to clear the building of insurgents. Afghan officials said those 
inside were throwing hand grenades.

The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack and 
asserted that both Afghans and foreigners were among the casualties.

At least four times, authorities carried out wounded or slain 
people and put them on stretchers and hauled them to ambulances. 
One of them was a Nepalese guard wearing a British Embassy guard 
force hat. He appeared to have burns on his face.

Two NATO attack helicopters circled low over the compound as white 
smoke rose from inside, and armored vehicles stretched far down 
the highway as the standoff dragged on.

“The good news is that the British nationals that were in the 
compound made it to the safe room and they are alive and well in 
it,” said a U.S. military official who was at the scene advising 
the Afghan national police. “The Gurkhas put up a good fight, and 
they were able to push the attack back.”

The U.S. military official expressed concern about further violence.

“We got word that a Taliban commander is coordinating the effort 
from somewhere in the vicinity, so we are expecting a secondary 
hit,” he said. “That’s why everybody is a little bit jumpy right now.”

The U.S. military official said a team of Afghan police commandos 
worked to clear the building along with a French bomb team and 
British soldiers.

The blasts took place along a main divided highway of the city, 
near the houses of prominent Afghan officials such as Vice 
President Mohammad Qasim Fahim as well as former presidential 
candidate Abdullah Abdullah. A row of two-story buildings selling 
car parts were damaged in the explosions, and shattered glass was 
scattered on the street. The remains of what appeared to be a car 
bomb stood about 30 feet from the compound.

On Thursday, 22 Afghan civilians were killed in the western city 
of Herat when a minibus drove over an improvised explosive device, 
according to Mohyuddin Noori, a spokesman for the Herat provincial 

Noori also said that another vehicle hit another roadside bomb 
Thursday morning in the same district, seriously wounding six 
civilians and killing one.

Both Kabul and Herat — considered to be two of the country’s 
safest provinces — were among the areas formally handed over to 
Afghan forces this summer.

Special correspondent Javed Hamdard and staff writer Kevin Sieff 
contributed to this report.

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