The suicide bomber who blew himself up in the Finest supermarket in Kabul on 28 January had to get through a city-wide security cordon to reach his target. The Finest was chosen because it was frequented by foreigners who wouldn't be in Kabul were it not for the occupation, and because, exceptionally for such a place, it was not protected by security guards or reinforced doors. It was not the haunt of foreign diplomats, whose lives are so protected and regulated that they rarely enter a local shop, but a second tier of strangers: the aid workers, contractors and consultants who are integral to the international effort to transform Afghanistan. In the event, an Afghan family and at least four foreign women lost their lives at the Finest. The injured included two Canadians, a Briton and three Filipino domestic servants - a class that has sprouted in the city. According to the Taliban spokesman who claimed responsibility for the blast, none of those killed was truly a civilian, because the attack had taken place in a 'secured area with commercial stores for foreign occupiers'. The Taliban's idea of what a civilian is tells you a lot about the current insurgency and the occupation to which it is opposed.
LRB 14 April 2011 | PDF Download