On Thursday 8th January 2004 at 18.45 a bomb was found outside UNAMA office, where I work. I got a call in my office to come to the bunker immediately. I grabbed some water, small cassette recorder with Deep Purple and Racmananov tape, my communication radio, mobile and left.
The bomb was a tank shell with a hand grenade attached and a straightened pin to make it more easily detonated. Sweets were placed around it to attract children presumably.
I rang colleagues who I knew were planning to go out from their guesthouse and may have passed the office. I got them just as they got into their car. I did not give details over the radio but just told them not to go anywhere. The road outside was sealed off and de-mining team called. I then heard that the bomb had been moved by local security to the middle of the road. Afghans are used to these explosive devices but still it was a risk as it may have had other triggers. I asked for them not to move it again and to clear people from the houses nearby. Someone playing music blocked some of our radio channels. Apparently some radios have been stolen.
At 20.10 given the green light that it had been dealt with and we could go.
This is the first attack on the UN in the north for two years. The two warlords here, Atta and Dostum, are usually concerned with fighting each other. It is unlikely to be Taliban and more likely to be a local general upset about the de-arming and his loss of power and money. Also there are a lot of Uzbeks feel dissatisfied with the constitution passed on Sunday 4th.
So it seems as if things could be getting warmer up here. Talking of which the winter here is not much fun. While Kabul is cold with snow and Bamyian is often down to minus 25 centigrade here in Mazar it is a bit warmer but a mud pit. Most of roads are earth and now mud. The restriction of movement means life is office or guesthouse, which does not make for much variation. However, the Afghan Civic Education team I have is fantastic and compensates. They and most Afghans still put a lot of hope in the process. I fear they may be disappointed. The next few months will tell.