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Suicide Bomber Targets Afghan Police


It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.


And I'm Steve Inskeep. In Afghanistan's capital Kabul, today, a man walked up to a checkpoint outside the headquarters of the Interior Ministry. He was wearing a police uniform and he was a suicide bomber. He set off his explosives and killed at least six members of the Afghan National Police. All this happening just days before a national election. NPR's Sean Carberry is covering the story from Kabul. And Sean, can you describe what you've learned about the scene?

SEAN CARBERRY, BYLINE: Well, as you said, he walked up to the Interior Ministry. He passed through two checkpoints out on the street. He got to a third checkpoint at the entry to the compound of the ministry. People say he was identified as suspicious at that point, and then he detonated his vest with a number of people around. So the uniform got him at least close, but not inside the actual ministry grounds.

INSKEEP: And this has to contribute to paranoia in Kabul, just days before and election, that a man would get through most of the security on his way toward the Interior Ministry.

CARBERRY: It certainly - to hit this target is very disconcerting to people. There've been a number of high profile attacks in the last couple of weeks in Kabul, designed to show fear, designed to hit election related targets, to try to undermine the election. We haven't seen any violence in the city since Saturday, so everyone was, kind of, waiting to see what the next episode was going to be. But to hit the Interior Ministry will make people very nervous about election security.

INSKEEP: Is it going to be possible to hold a presidential election to replace President Hamid Karzai under these conditions?

CARBERRY: Well, as the U.N. will tell you, that these conditions are actually better than the 2009 vote. There's a feeling that there are more areas that are secure, even though there is a lot of insecurity around the country. So they are going ahead. They have closed a number of polling places and areas where the believe it will be too violent or dangerous, but there will be a number that are open in insecure areas, which raise fear, not only about attacks and violence, but also about the potential for fraud in areas where people can't monitor the election activities.

INSKEEP: Sean Carberry, I want to ask about one other thing. Our colleague, Renee Montagne, of course, is in Afghanistan, and we've learned that security forces showed up at the place where she was staying and instructed her to move to a new location. Apparently a lot of Westerners have been told to move. What's going on?

CARBERRY: Well, essentially, because of the attacks in recent weeks that have targeted, frequently, Westerners, Afghan officials seem to be concerned about any more violence against Westerners and have tried to shut down places that they think don't have adequate security. And have essentially told people to leave and find a safer place to stay. So again, they're concerned about any further violence against Westerners in the run up to the election.

INSKEEP: Sean thanks. Take care of yourself.

CARBERRY: Thanks, Steve.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Sean Carberry in Kabul. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sean Carberry is NPR's international correspondent based in Kabul. His work can be heard on all of NPR's award-winning programs, including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.

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