What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Baghlan bombing: Things we know now (update)

Well, the BBC got some important details clarified by now. (Update to a series of posts on the Baghlan bombing.)
This is what can be established or highlighted from their most recent report on the Baghlan bombing.
" For Mohammad Fahim, one of the teachers who was unharmed, the suicide bomb meant the loss of five of his colleagues. One of them was also his father.
"Representatives of the government should not use bodyguards who have no experience and no judgement. When the bomb went off, the bodyguards opened fire and killed some of our young people." "
So now it's confirmed that the source of the gunfire heard by people at the blast's scene were the bodyguards who escorted the parliamentary delegation to the sugar factory (five bodyguards also died in the attack by the way). And it also appears to be the case that they opened fire inconsiderately, possibly lethally shooting some in the crowd.

Photo (BBC): Mohammad Fahim, school teacher from Baghlan
With regards to a teacher like Mohammad Fahim who lost five of his colleagues in the attack, among them his father, it is important to note that now he also has his job to worry for, as Baghlan's school perhaps will not open its doors for a while. In Afghanistan, where local communities matter so much, the loss of five local teachers is disastrous indeed.
I was glad to see a news source finally dismissing the ridiculously unlikely scenario of a missile attack.
Else again.
It has become clear now that both Baghlan's governor and the Baghlani police chief were in Mazar-i-Sharif at the time of the sugar factory attack (police chief Maulana Abdurrahman was at a seminar there). I'm not going to go into speculations about why they weren't there in Baghlan, though it's certainly remarkable that this turned out like that, coincidence or not. The governor and the police chief must have travelled together to Mazar, this might suggest.
And finally.
Finally a news source isn't secretive about where the video footage that some news agencies were happy to talk about in their reports came from. It came from a police officer who was filming the arrival of the delegation when the bomber struck. (This is the video that showed a man holding up a severed head after the blast, angrily holding it up as he claimed it was the head of the suicide bomber.)
So much for today. We know more now.
Update (November 20): There are news that a report by the UN Department of Safety and Security (some say it's just a regular weekly assessment by the DSS) blames the parliamentary delegation's body guards for potentially a lot of the over seventy deaths. News reports typically mention this as a case of panicked security personnel firing indiscriminately, but BBC quotes the UN-DSS report as saying "a number of armed men deliberately and indiscriminately fired into a crowd of unarmed civilians." Being deliberate and panicked sounds a bit confusing to me - in fact that's why I'm adding all this in just an update to this last post of mine so far on murky picture emerging about the Baghlan bombing. The UN is also giving rather contradictory signals as yet. With some of the eyewitness accounts I've quoted in this blog, it might be consistent that there was quite a lot of shooting (the DSS report allegedly says about a hundred rounds were fired) after the blast, but whether that killed a lot of people as opposed to just a few, exactly how many, and whether deliberately or not, remains uncertain for now.

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