Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Spain 'goes nuclear' on Catalonia

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Civil rights leader Al Sharpton says Trump 'channels' racism

Read more

THE DEBATE

Moment of truth: Spain sets in motion direct rule over Catalonia

Read more

PEOPLE & PROFIT

Must it come down? Market analysts bracing for correction

Read more

FOCUS

Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto to vote on autonomy

Read more

THE POLITICAL BRIEF

France considers tough new laws to crack down on sexual harassment

Read more

ENCORE!

Inside the new Yves Saint Laurent museum in Morocco

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

California: When your home is reduced to ashes

Read more

FRENCH CONNECTIONS

#balancetonporc: Sexual harassment and gender inequality in France

Read more

Asia-pacific

Eerie calm precedes Afghanistan's day of reckoning

Text by Leela JACINTO , Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan

Latest update : 2009-08-19

A tense calm has gripped Kabul on the eve of Afghanistan's critical elections. FRANCE 24's Leela Jacinto discovers that with the media ban concealing reports of attacks, the calm appears to be at least partially state-enforced.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 – 9 am
 

On the eve of Afghanistan’s landmark elections, there’s a sense of apprehension in the air. August 19 also happens to be Afghan National Day, so it’s a public holiday. Schools, offices, and most shops are shut down in the Afghan capital of Kabul and residents seem to be staying at home.

 

Kabul’s notorious traffic has calmed down this morning. But although the streets are largely empty, it still takes ages to get from one part of the city to another. Cars are being frequently stopped by Afghan police officials and security is tight.

 

But that did not stop an attack at a local bank this morning. Gunfire could be heard from the building, but there was no word of casualties – yet. The Taliban have claimed the attack – as they usually do. Afghan police officials however say it was a criminal gang. This is a familiar story in Kabul. There are a number of criminal gangs operating in the Afghan capital. But the Afghan Interior Ministry tends to frequently blame unnamed criminal gangs for a number of incidents.

 

The difference though is that, this time, my driver Imamuddin has not heard about the attack. Imamuddin is hooked to the local radio stations blasting in his car, so when I tell him about the attack, he’s surprised he hasn’t heard the news. The media ban seems to be working here.

 

Yesterday, after a particularly grim series of attacks in and around the capital as well as the troubled southern region, the Afghan government issued a statement banning national and local media from covering attacks. International rights groups promptly criticised the move of course. But the Afghan government insists it was intended to "ensure the wide participation of the Afghan people" in tomorrow’s poll. We’ll have to wait 24 critical hours to see if that part of the deal works.

 

 

Date created : 2009-08-19

COMMENT(S)