Bitter 2009 blast memories still haunt Kandahar families
Voices of war victims
KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): Family members of those killed and wounded in a powerful truck bomb blast six years ago in southern Kandahar province say they still lead a painful and miserable life.
The bereaved families say they have been ignored by the government and aid-giving organizations after the 2009 blast snatched away their breadwinners and destroyed their businesses.
The blast in August 2009 during the holy month of Ramadan was the deadliest in the country, with residents of Kandahar describing the blast as shaking the city as if a powerful earthquake had struck.
The truck bombing took place in the limits of the six police district on the Ahad Shahi playground road in front of Spogmai restaurant, killing 40 people and injuring 65 others besides destroying a large number of residences and shops.
A grey-bearded man, Abdul Karim, said he owned a food shop in the locality where he along with his six sons would work.
He told Pajhwok Afghan News the powerful blast killed his eldest son and injured the remaining five.
Recalling the incident, he said: “It was fourth day of Ramadan. It was a hot day and after a long wait the time to break the fast was nearing and crowds of people were busying food items as suddenly a huge blast occurred, destroying everything.”
The elderly man said he would like breaking the fast at home and his sons would remain at the shop. On that day, Abdul Karim, after buying some food items, was on his way home a few minutes ahead of iftari and he had not yet reached the gate of his home when the powerful blast occurred.
He suddenly took out his phone from his pocket and started calling to his sons but they did not attend his calls, exacerbating his fears.
He did not enter his home and instead ran towards his shop. Abdul Karim said when he reached the scene, he could not believe the hustle bustle that he left behind a few moments ago had turned into a catastrophe. “It was like a massive earthquake had struck and destroyed everything.”
The elderly man paused and tears shone in his eyes. “Everyone was looking for his relatives among the dead and wounded. Some had their half faces gone, others had their half bodies mutilated and there were more who had their hands and legs severed and there were many more trapped under the rubble.”
Karim found his five sons in injured condition. “They were not recognizable. We took them to hospital with the help of people.”
But his sixth son, the eldest one, could not be immediately found. He was found dead two days later when his body like many others was retrieved from beneath the rubble of a collapsed wall.
His eldest son left behind two children and his wife. One of his children has blood cancer.
The blast destroyed Abdul Karim’s hard-won life to the extent that he would not be able to re-establish.
Six years on, the impact of the tragedy remains because one of his sons lives with plastic intestines, another had one of his kidneys removed and others had undergone similar surgical operations after they were injured in the blast.
Karim said he spent a lot of money on his sons’ treatment but they did not recover. “For me, my sons are like broken arms because they cannot work.”
The blast not only killed his eldest son and physically challenged the five others, but also completely destroyed his shop worth one million afghanis.
Like others, Karim received 100,000 afghanis in compensation from the government for the dead son and 50,000 afghanis for each wounded son.
But after that money, Karim has never been assisted again.
Along with dozens more affected persons, Karim said he had many times visited the governor’s house and the provincial council office, but in vain.
He said the government had also promised him that he would be facilitated to perform hajj, but this was yet to happen.
Abdul Karim urged the government to provide him permanent assistance and said he was innocent and his life was plunged into darkness and then ignored.
Another victim of the attack, Fazl Mohammad, said he lost three members of his family to the blast that injured another three members of his family.
He told Pajhwok Afghan News the blast killed his cousin and his two sons and injured another three relatives including his brother.
He said it was a painful incident that snatched away joys from dozens of families and gave them an unending grief. He said one of his injured relatives had paralyzed and could not recover despite a prolonged treatment.
Fazl Mohammad also complained that his affected relatives could not receive long-term assistance and could not be compensated for the financial loss.
He said he had been promised compensation for his destroyed shop but he was yet to receive the aid despite the passage of six years. He said the brutal attack left him alone to feed the entire family.
Kandahar provincial council member and presidential advisor on public affairs, Haji Agha Lalai Tastagiri, also said the victims had not been compensated as they should have been.
He told Pajhwok Afghan News the affected families had been paid compensation for the dead and wounded but not for the financial losses they incurred in the blast.
At the time, a commission had been tasked with investigating the financial losses, but the affected people were not compensated for unknown reasons, he said.
He said the government should launch a campaign to hear the voices of war victims and help them revive their lives.
Dastagiri said the Taliban had been planning to explode the truck bomb at the Kandahar airfield, but it went off prematurely, killing and wounding civilians.
“As far as my information is concerned, the perpetrators of the attack have not been arrested by the security organs,” the public representative said.
He urged the government to identify the perpetrators and punish them and provide long-term assistance to the affected families.
Kandahar police spokesman Zia Durrani said police always tried to arrest the perpetrators of such terrorist attacks and bring them to justice and had arrested the masterminds of several such attacks.
He said security officials at the time had tried their best to arrest the perpetrators of the 2009 truck bombing, but failed.
The governor’s spokesman, Samim Khpalwak, said the then provincial administration had compensated the victims according to available resources. He said continued assistance with the bereaved families was the job of the central government which did not do that.
He said the provincial administration had repeatedly proposed the central government to provide assistance to the affected families, but to no avail.
The gubernatorial spokesman said they would once again dispatch written request to the central government for assistance to the affected families.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.