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Fewer foreign customers in shops after attack on Finest supermarket

Fewer foreign customers in shops after attack on Finest supermarket

Feb 23, 2011 - 11:39

KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): The number of foreigners shopping in Western grocery stores in Kabul has dropped sharply after an attack on the Finest supermarket last month which left at least eight people dead, shop owners said.

The suicide attack on Jan. 28 on Finest, a supermarket chain selling Western brands in the diplomatic enclave of Wazir Akbar Khan, also injured another 15 people, including five foreigners. Afghan shop owners say that with foreigners staying away, business has dropped to its lowest in years.

"We lost all our foreign customers the first week of the attack," Fakhruddin, owner of Metro Supermarket in Shar-i-Naw, told Pajhwok Afghan News.

Nowadays, he has far fewer foreign customers, he said.

Every supermarket has invested more than $1 million (45 million afghanis), and if security is not ensured, they will sustain losses, he said.

Ulfat, the owner of PX supermarket, another shop popular with Westerners, said he too had lost his foreign customers, which was also eating into sales.

"After the Finest supermarket suicide attack, we lost about 40 percent of our sales," he said.

He called on the Talibaninfo-icon insurgents not to attack places where civilians were present or private businesses.

If security for private business cannot be insured, foreigners may take their investment elsewhere, he said.

Saeed Mujtaba, an employee at the Best Supermarket in Wazir Akbar Khan, said it was the responsibility of the security forces to protect their premises from attack.

If the police do not ensure safety of the businesses, how can employees work with confidence, he said. Mujtaba said foreigners were not shopping for themselves anymore, but sending their Afghan staff.

John Robert, a US citizen who lives in Wazir Akbar Khan said he used to go shopping on a daily basis before the attack on Finest, but since then, he had not been in the store for 10 days.

“We do not feel safe outside of our houses and offices after the Finest supermarket suicide attack,” Robert said.

Police have increased checkpoints to ensure security, Col. Mohammad Zahir, crime branch chief of 101 Asmayee Police Zone, said.

He asked residents to inform the police immediately if they observe any suspicious activity or people.

Without the people’s cooperation, police cannot ensure the security, he added.

There are about 100 supermarkets in Kabul, according to Kabul Municipality.



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