KUNDUZ CITY, Afghanistan (Reuters) – The Afghan army and police on Thursday failed to expel Taliban fighters from the outskirts of a besieged provincial capital as a seventh day of fierce fighting put pressure on national forces struggling largely without U.S. military backup.
The Taliban push is a major test of the Afghan security forces trained by NATO, which ended its combat mission in Afghanistan in December, 13 years after the U.S.-backed military intervention that toppled the hard-line Islamist regime.
KABUL (Reuters) – A car bomb targeting an international zone known as the Green Village rocked eastern Kabul on Wednesday evening followed by bursts of gunfire, police and residents said.
A Reuters photographer at the scene said the street outside the Green Village, a heavily guarded complex housing foreign contractors and various facilities, had been sealed off and Afghan security forces were clearing the area.
By Omar Sobhani
Last Friday was a public holiday here in Afghanistan but I was on call and had gone for lunch in Kabul with my friends. Our relaxing day was interrupted by a huge explosion.
It took little time to figure out what was going on. As on most days, working or not, I carry my cameras so I jumped in my car and rushed towards the noise. My colleague Mohammad Ismail, who was enjoying a day off also, heard the explosion and called me as I headed towards the scene saying that he was coming to help cover the story. I spoke to my text and TV colleagues at Reuters bureau although the sound of the attack was too loud to hear easily but they were well aware of the incident.
By Omar Sobhani
Usually when I go to shoot for a story, we are faced with a bomb blast, a suicide attack, or some other type of violence here in Afghanistan. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised when I visited Afghanistan’s National Institute of Music. Even though I have lived in Kabul for many years, I had no clue this academy even existed — it is the only of its kind in the whole country.
Foreigners and Afghans teach young Afghans how to play all sorts of instruments, as well as to sing. What struck me most is the opportunity given to women. There are not many opportunities for women in Afghanistan to play or sing music — during the Taliban era (from 1996-2001) music was outright banned and women were basically taken away from public life.