Kabul residents in shock after wave of violence | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 31.01.2018
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Kabul residents in shock after wave of violence

Three deadly attacks in just one week have put residents of the Afghan capital in a state of shock. Fear and hopelessness are spreading throughout the city. DW's Hussain Sirat reports from Kabul.

A long line has formed in front of the "Emergency" hospital clinic in Kabul. Loved ones wait patiently, hoping to hear encouraging information about the health of family members from doctors working there. Their eyes are full of sadness and desperation. The clinic is operated by an Italian non-governmental organization that has been treating war-wounded persons since 1999. It has been utterly overburdened for the last several days.

'We cannot tell mom'

"Doctors are doing really good work and helping the wounded as best they can," 27-year-old Amanullah, who is here to see his cousin, tells DW. "At first we didn't know where our cousin was. Finally a doctor answered his cellphone and told us that he was in a coma."

His cousin has undergone one operation already and is scheduled to have another soon.

Most patients at the clinic were victims of Saturday's massive bombing at the Afghan Interior Ministry, which killed over 100 people and injured more than 230.

Amanullah's cousin lost an eye in the attack. "His family is going through hell," says Amanullah. "We have to keep the news from his mother because she has heart problems. We don't want her to end up in the hospital, too."

Afghanistan Explosion in Kabul (picture-alliance/dpa/Zumapress)

A suicide blast in central Kabul on January 27 killed more than 100 people

Zabiullah almost lost both of his sons in the blast as well. They were near the Interior Ministry when the attack occurred.

"My son Safiullah was on one side of the street and his brother on the other side," Zabiullah tells DW. "Safiullah's legs were torn apart and had to be amputated in the hospital."

"He had so many dreams. He wanted to get a job, find work and get married. That seems impossible now. He is heartbroken," says the father, as tears roll down his face. He hasn't slept for days.

'It's the government's fault'

These recent attacks in the capital and in other regions across the country have caused great discontent among the population. On Wednesday, Afghanistan's interior minister and the head of its intelligence services traveled to Pakistan. The government in Kabul blames neighboring Pakistan for the escalation in violence. But Afghan citizens blame their own government.

Mohammad Sidiq runs an opticians' business near where the Kabul attack took place. He is worried about his safety.

"We are scared when we eat, when we sit, even when we sleep. Something awful could happen at any time," he says. "Ordinary people are suffering. But of course high-ranking politicians are spared — and it's their fault."

Zabiullah's father is of the same opinion. "How can such major attacks be planned without the government or the intelligence services knowing about it? How can someone smuggle so many explosives into the capital?" he asks. "It seems clear that terrorists have infiltrated the government."

Funeral in Afghanistan Kabul (Reuters/O. Sobhani)

The wave of violence has left residents of Kabul in a state of shock and mourning

Both the Taliban and "Islamic State" have claimed responsibility for the attacks. Although the Taliban has traditionally waited until spring to start their annual offensives, this year they have been very active throughout the long, hard winter. It appears that the radical Islamist group feels the need to respond to intensified US and Afghan security forces' combat operations against terrorists.  

Faruq, a 40-year-old tailor, believes the Afghan government is doing the best it can, although he is not completely convinced. Faruq runs an alterations shop and says he has earned less than 500 Afghanis over the last several weeks, or roughly €6 ($7.50).

"I can only get by with help from friends," he says. "No one wants to buy material or have anything sewn these days."

Sombre atmosphere

Now, days after the devastating attacks, the normalcy of everyday life seems to have somewhat returned to Kabul. Clean-up activities are in full swing and shops have reopened. But the mood is gloomy.

Amanullah is worried about his cousin. "What is to become of the family? We can only hope that he wakes up." He says. "People here are emotionally exhausted and despondent. How long can this go on?"

"I am just thankful that my son is still alive," Safiullah's father Zabiullah says tearfully.

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