20-Hour Insurgent Attack Ends In Afghan Capital

Sep 14, 2011
Originally published on September 14, 2011 7:07 am
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This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.


Hello to you both.

QUIL LAWRENCE: Good morning, Steve.

RENEE MONTAGNE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: What do you see there?

MONTAGNE: As you said, you know, the target was the American embassy. And looking out of one of these big open windows, there's a clear line of sight to the embassy, it's a perfect target from this distance, for something like a rocket-propelled grenade.

INSKEEP: Let me bring Quil Lawrence into the conversation here, because some people will recall Quil's descriptions of the fighting yesterday. Quil, why did it take almost a full day to end the siege, to flush them out of this building?

LAWRENCE: And so the Afghan police, anyway, are saying that this shows their professionalism. They've also been praised by the NATO commander, the commander of U.S. forces here, for taking a slow approach and avoiding civilian casualties in a heavily populated area in the center of the city.

MONTAGNE: It turns out to have been two suicide bombers who were bombing a police station near a mosque. And there were some fatalities there. But in the scheme of things, as many locations as were attacked, the fatalities are extremely low.

INSKEEP: What does this say then about the broader effort to pacify Afghanistan or at least bring down the violence there?

LAWRENCE: Well, there's a lot of questions being raised about whether Afghan forces are ready to take over security. The long time that it took them to clear this building is being cited. The fact that, even though yesterday was very high security around Kabul, we had trouble getting to some of our appointments because areas of the city were locked down. We don't know if that was because they an intelligence tipoff or because of VIPs. But even with all of these checkpoints around the city, the Taliban were still able to infiltrate with over six attackers with suicide vests and plenty of ammunition. One of the policemen here said they had enough ammunition to hold up for a week if they needed to.

INSKEEP: Let me ask one more thing before I let you go. What's the view across Kabul today? What does the city look like today?

MONTAGNE: From what we can see, Kabul looks as it always does. There's buildings being built. You can see in the distance, another high-rise across the street from the American embassy, you know. So there's activity here. I must say, yesterday, it never slowed down in some parts of town. People go on.

LAWRENCE: I just went out to the grocers last night after most of this attack was over. And the man I see everyday to buy my groceries looked at me and he said, the situation is bad. Go back into your house. Go home right now. People are nervous. There are rumors flying.

INSKEEP: Thanks to you both.

MONTAGNE: Thank you, Steve.

LAWRENCE: Thanks, Steve. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.