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Saturday, May 25, 2013

KABUL, 5:30 AM, MAY 25, 2013

by Rick Gray

“Taliban Attack U.N. Affiliate’s Compound in Kabul, Testing Afghan Security Forces” By ROD NORDLAND and SHARIFULLAH SAHAK, The New York Times, May 24, 2013
KABUL, Afghanistan — In what appeared to be a concerted effort to test the capabilities of Afghan security forces in the capital, Taliban insurgents sought to penetrate the heavily fortified heart of Kabul on Friday, blasting their way into a residential compound of the International Organization for Migration, a United Nations-affiliated agency.

The Afghan forces managed to hold the attackers at bay, and hundreds of international agency employees in nearby compounds escaped harm. But at least two people were killed and 13 wounded, including an Italian woman, and it took more than six hours for hundreds of Afghan police officers to subdue no more than six attackers with suicide vests, guns and grenade launchers. Explosions continued through the night. The authorities said they were from booby traps the attackers had planted in the compound.

It was the first example of what the military calls a “complex attack,” involving both gunmen and suicide bombers, in the capital since insurgents attacked the headquarters of the unarmed traffic police force in January. It took Afghan forces nine hours to bring that to an end.

The morning after the attack
I'm woken by the rough voices of
men banging together metal scaffolding
and joking in a language
I'm too sleepy to learn.

I rise with them
to bang together a
rough draft of whatever
my aching brain can translate
from this wrecked mess.

Reaching open my thick, black curtain
I'm blinded with golden windows
exploding with a raging peace.
"Get out here, professor!" a Brooklyn voice leaps
impossible from an unfinished roof

and comes crashing into my space
riding a wild Afghan light, burning me
like a dead brother returning.
"We need your body!" he keeps singing
into my sunken chest, pounding. 

Rick Gray served in the Peace Corps in Kenya and currently teaches at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul. He was a finalist for the Editor's Award at Margie, and has an essay that will be appearing in the forthcoming book, Neither Here Nor There: An Anthology of Reverse Culture Shock. When not in Kabul, he lives with his wife Ghizlane and twin daughters Rania and Maria in Florida.