Tomorrow is the first day of Ramadan, the month-long Muslim festival. During Ramadan, it is forbidden to eat, drink, smoke or have sex during daylight hours. It's considered a time for reflection, practicing restraint and patience. Traditionally, things are more quiet around here during Ramadan, with even the Taliban taking a break from major operations.*
*Afghans will tell you that this pause is because of religious strictures against violence and the fact that Ramadan is a time for prayer and being with family. Personally, I think it has more to do with the fact that even the Taliban are tired and hungry. It's tough to go out and set an ambush at nightfall if you haven't eaten anything all day.
I guess the trogs* decided that before Ramadan kicks off and they fall into a hunger-induced stupor they should use up the explosives they've managed to smuggle into Kabul recently. Use 'em or lose 'em, I guess the theory goes.
*Henceforth, my preferred designation for the Taliban will be "trogs" or "troglodytes," a more accurate term given their genesis as primitive, cave-dwelling, illiterate mouth-breathers. Plus, "booger-eaters" was taken.
Today, they decided to use 'em. I was at my office when we heard the blast. It was close enough to be of concern, although far enough away that I knew right away that it sucked to be somebody else. My second thought was, "That sort of sounded like it came from the direction of my house."
As it turns out, the attack was on a guesthouse about ten blocks from my office, and four blocks from my residence. Initial reports are still coming in and there's a lot of conflicting information, but it appears that two suicide attackers attempted to breach the gate at the guesthouse, were stopped by the Afghan security guards and that at least one detonated himself on the street. Both attackers died and they took at least two Afghan guards with them. Apparently, none of the guests inside the house were seriously hurt (but I bet their ears are still ringing).
Tactically, it's very similar to the attack on the UN guesthouse last fall, except that in this case the trogs didn't get through the perimeter. That's the difference between properly-trained and motivated private security guards and the ANP that died defending the UN guesthouse. Proper procedures, a hardened perimeter and alert guards made all the difference. Could have been a nightmare scenario, but the security seems to have done their job. Of course, it cost two of them their lives.
I'm told the guesthouse belonged to Hart Security, but I'm not sure if it was a simple hotel, or an operational center. Either way, if this turns out to be an attack specifically targeting a PSC, then this game is changing and fast.
Hart Security is a proper outfit, so I'm sure they will do the right thing for the families of their men. And the imams say that the trog "martyrs" will by now be enjoying their 72 virgins in paradise.* But two of them for two of us is not even close to a fair trade.
*Is it written anywhere in the Koran that the virgins** are actually female? That's something I'd want to clarify before I strap on an explosive-vest. I think I'd want some assurances on that point.
**And what exactly is the attraction of virgins anyway?
Perhaps Ramadan is going to be busier than I thought.
More from the NYTimes here.