Editor’s note: On September 13-14, 2011, Taliban militants attacked the U.S. Embassy and coalition headquarters in Kabul. Our writer describes what she heard and saw as she struggled to get home from work. At least fourteen people were killed in the attacks.
It was about 1:30 p.m. on September 13 when I reached my office after a meeting at the Parliament. My husband had called, telling me not to leave the building because of an attack taking place in Abdul Haq square. Rockets were being fired on the U.S. Embassy.
One of my colleagues called our office security to ask about it, and they said yes, it was true. I was making fun of them, saying how we informed them of the attack, not the other way around and we were still laughing when one of the security staff came by and told us to listen to him. He was not in a good humor and he said everyone was under lockdown until further notice.
Gradually we realized the seriousness of the situation. I called relatives who were near the targeted area to find out if they were okay. My brother and sister-in-law were not answering their phones and no one in the family knew why.
I could no longer concentrate on office work and I kept checking my phone to see if it was working.
Everyone in the office and the city felt the tension. People analyzed the attack, TVs were turned on everywhere, there was no traffic on the roads, and security personnel were deployed on every street and corner of the city.
At about 4:30 p.m., explosions were reported from another part of the city. This was disturbing. Would the terrorists attack different neighborhoods to disrupt security all over the city? The universities closed; the government announced all the citizens should remain where they were.
About that time I started crying because my two-year-old daughter was at home and if the lockdown continued, I would have to stay at the office all night. That was not acceptable at all.
I went to the senior managers to ask permission to go home. They said they would not take responsibility for my safety. I accepted this and prayed to Allah as I left the office.
Outside I could hear clearly the exchange of fire. Police were shouting at everyone not to walk slowly, but to run and keep our heads lowered, as they were firing rockets and mortars that could hit anywhere. This was a strange situation. The police were telling not just men but women like me to run for safety. Normally women would not run.
I reached home safely and found that everyone, including my husband, had gotten home already. But other people lost loved ones, innocent people and school children.
I thought how our sacred religion says life itself is a special gift of God, which explains why parents will do everything they can to have children. Yet suicide bombers kill themselves at a young age as if they were born for no reason. What if somebody were to train them to do something useful? The real culprits never go out to blow themselves up.
An Afghan policeman stands in front of the shopping mall where Taliban gunmen battled security forces in Kabul on September 13, 2011. Omar Sobhani/Reuters.