Aftermath of Nangarhar massacre: Victims’ account

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NANGARHAR: Six-year-old Ayesha was injured in a deadly blast that left scores of others, including her mother and brothers, killed and wounded.


Earlier this week, the heinous car bombing outside an intelligence headquarters in Ghanikhel district of Nangarhar province left at least 13 civilians dead, including three members of Ayesha’s family, and 42 others injured.


Provincial education officials said that 14 school students also suffered casualties in Saturday’s attack.


Mohammad Asif Shinwari, the spokesman of Nangarhar education department, confirmed seven students were killed and seven others injured in the explosion as they were on their way home from school.


Zabihullah, a private school 3rd grader, was also among the killed whose study notes went viral on social media and drew ringing denunciation. His notebook pages read a poem, saying “Bizarre people of this world leave you staggered.”


Meanwhile, among the sufferers of the bombing was the injured Ayesha, who was immediately evacuated to a hospital for treatment. She is still unaware that her mother and two brothers are dead.


The youngest of the victims are four-month-old Tasal and his sister Ayesha – both of whom suffered wounds in the attack.


The two minors are being treated in different rooms of the hospital, decoupled forever from the warmth and guardianship of their mother and two brothers.


Ayesha, who is unconscious about the world and suffers pain from her wounds, could hardly reply to her relatives who brought her to the hospital for treatment.


Her uncle, Abdullah, who is a university student, said that he lost his sister-in-law and two little nephews in the blast that inflicted injuries on his now-hospitalized nephew and niece.


Ayesha and her family are also related to Bismillah Jan Shinwari, an Afghan international cricket umpire.


Abdullah, in a grieving tone, continued that his brother was taking the little Tasal to a local clinic for medical treatment when the bomb ravaged their car.


“It was a terrible situation, I saw my brother’s wife lying dead; the children were seriously injured; my two nephews were in a dreadful situation; I collected their brains in my hands to bury them,” he stated lamentably.


Abdullah called on the insurgents that it was not a Jihad where mothers and their little children were being victimized.


Meanwhile, Nangarhar police chief, Col. Ghulam Sanayee Stanikzai, said that the target of the attack was the intelligence, police and district headquarters but security forces controlled the situation before it could cause massive destruction.


“You know that peace talks are underway, the enemy tries to get the benefit of such attacks that cause civilian casualties,” he said.


Nangarhar’s provincial council believed the detective agencies had obtained intelligence information about the plot about a month ago but they failed to prevent it.


Obaidullah Shinwari, a provincial council member, is of the view that “the plan was being hatched for over a month and detective agencies were aware that it was a truck suicide bombing.”


Eyewitnesses said that the powerful explosion was followed by gun fires and most of the victims were civilians.


Nangarhar governor’s house said that Governor Ziaulhaq Amarkhel traveled to Ghanikhel district and visited the bereaved families for sharing his condolences and providing assistance.


No group has claimed credit for the bombing but the Taliban are often blamed for carrying out similar attacks across the country. However, eastern Nangarhar has also served as a stronghold of the Islamic State-Khorasan chapter besides the Taliban. It’s been years since the government forces and the Taliban have been fighting the so-called Islamic State militants for control over the mountainous terrain on the de facto Durand Line – the British drawn boundary between Afghanistan and Pakistan.  


This comes as roadside bombings and VBIEDs have increased across the country while for most of them, no group claims responsibility.


Through the RiV-monitoring initiative, an offshoot of the Afghan Peace Watch (APW), we have documented 2,345 security incidents in 34 provinces of Afghanistan since February 2020. Of these incidents, there have been 478 IEDs and 23 VBIEDs while nearly 300 attacks aren’t claimed by any of the warring sides – neither by the Afghan government nor by the Taliban.


Our team’s tally shows that as many as 11,060 individuals have been killed, among them 1,159 civilians, 2,182 ANDSF and 7,719 Taliban and 7,756 injured, including 1,844 civilians, 1,703 ANDSF and 4,209 Taliban in security incidents since February 22.