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Afghan Resort Struggles to Recover from Taliban Attack

  • Bethany Matta

In June, Taliban militants stormed a hotel at the Qargha Lake resort area a short drive from Kabul. At least 18 people died in the 12-hour assault, which the Taliban said was aimed at punishing people for partying, drinking alcohol and other un-Islamic activities. The popular resort is working on making a comeback

Like many of the Taliban's high-profile sieges, the Qargha Lake attack played out on TV.

Viewers who witnessed it will never forget the images of people clinging to the wall of the Spozhmai restaurant at Qargha lake, as attackers on the terrace above carried out their killing spree.

Today, for those living and working in Qargha, life is slowly returning to normal

Most of the Spozhmai restaurant has been reconstructed, but there are still signs of the attack

The floor remains stained from pools of blood. The bullet holes have not yet been repaired. And areas bombed out by the attackers' hand grenades can still be seen.

While the restaurant has returned to serving officials and middle-to-upper-class Afghans, the number of guests is down by more than 50 percent.

"There are two kinds of people," said Asadullah, the restaurant's manager. "There are those who have lived through 30 years of war; the attack has not affected these people. But, the other people who have not lived through the war; they are scared. The people who come here, they come for picnics, they are not those people fighting on the front line, it has affected them greatly."

Faridoon, the restaurant's accountant says he is used to attacks like the one at Qargha. But, still, he says, his life has been changed forever.

"I lost my brother in the attack, he was 23 and has two children," recalled Faridoon. "Two of our guards were killed and some of our guests."

Restaurants around the lake that serve traditional Afghan foods such as kebab and roasted chicken have also seen a decrease in business.

A worker at one of them says business is good at night, but there are fewer patrons during the day.

"After the attack, business has decreased by about 30 percent," noted one of the restaurant workers.

Security is tighter. More checkpoints have gone up and so has the number of guards patrolling the area.

Nabi, a cook at one of the lakeside restaurants, was also working the night of the attack.

"My family is happy I have a job and can go to work, but security-wise, of course, all Afghans are worried when someone in their family leaves the house," Nabi explained.

While some Afghans do leave their home and risk a trip to Qargha Lake, there are many others staying at home. It’s another reminder that nearly 11 years after the U.S.-led invasion, security fears still overshadow much of Afghanistan's daily life.
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