As the sun, heavy with sorrow, ascends over Kabul’s Dasht-e Barchi, it illuminates a night that had devoured the lives of countless young souls. These were passionate youths, united by their dreams, who had come together to partake in a fierce contest of combat. The excitement of victory and the dread of defeat surged within them. Then, in an instant, a blood-curdling cry shattered the tranquility, turning their anticipation into a harrowing nightmare. The arena, once filled with spirited athletes, now lay transformed into a macabre landscape of crimson and lifeless forms.
This heart-wrenching incident cast a shadow of sorrow, enveloping the region in its extensive and seemingly never-ending grasp. The eyes of mothers, still moist with grief from the tragedy at the Kaaj Educational Training Center the previous year, now beheld their burnt and shrouded sons, their wounds torn open once more.
The night, tainted with the blood of the youth, yielded to morning’s light. Men, women, young girls, and boys who had endured a night plagued by haunting nightmares flocked to the scene. They came to bear witness to a place that had once again become a killing ground for the young.
Whispers fill the sorrowful atmosphere of the winding roads of Dasht-e Barchi, discussing the circumstances of this tragic incident. Some talk about the unbearable pain and suffering of parents who have been scarred repeatedly, losing yet another piece of their hearts. Others speculate about the number of casualties and the wounded, and some are still anxious, fearing that their loved ones might have perished at that location, with no one notifying them yet. However, what unites them all is the mystery surrounding the details of the harrowing incident, the number of casualties, and the wounded, because, unlike previous sorrowful events, this time the Taliban group has taken more serious measures to keep the exact information about the scale of the event and the number of casualties and wounded under wraps. Hence, various narratives emerged among the people, and with the passing of a few hours, the media has also been unable to provide an accurate account of the incident’s victims.
The farther I advance, the more I encounter distressed, disheveled, and disoriented faces of people. I arrive at the first hospital near the scene where they had initially taken some of the wounded, but there is no sign of haste or the clamor of mothers, only a tall, armed, bushy beard man who watches the approaching crowd closely. It seems the injuries are so severe and fragmented that even this modest hospital lacks the equipment to properly dress their deep wounds, and they have been swiftly transferred elsewhere.
As I get closer to the scene, I feel my legs growing weaker, and every step becomes a challenge. Finally, I reached the killing ground of the young athletes, where last night there was enthusiasm and excitement, but in an instant, that fervor turned into a deathly silence.
The area around the incident has been cordoned off by the Taliban, who patrol its four sides and prevent people from taking photographs, shooting videos, or gathering. They do not allow anyone to approach. The top two floors of the building are in flames and destroyed. The explosion has also damaged the adjacent building. Inside the structure, individuals are cleaning up the blood of the victims and collecting the remnants of the event.
Next to the families of the victims, some have suffered financial losses due to the severity of the incident, and they have bowed their heads in sorrow for losing their sole source of income. A middle-aged man with a gloomy face is seated at the entrance of the building. Distress and helplessness pour from his countenance as he chokes back his tears and confides in another man sitting beside him, sharing the agony of his loss. The companion places a consoling hand on his shoulder to offer solace.
On the other side, there are young people who, seemingly having escaped the tragedy of last night with their lives intact, have gathered. They speak with ashen faces and parched lips, describing the circumstances of the incident and searching for their friends who may have been wounded or killed. It appears that, due to the strict measures imposed by the Taliban, they still lack precise information about their friends even after several hours, leaving them mostly concerned and distraught.
A few steps away from the scene, there’s a mosque from which the sounds of Quran recitation and the recitation of Fatiha can be heard. However, unlike in the past, it’s now more challenging to discern the voices of those reciting Fatiha, which is why fewer passersby notice the grieving families sitting there, mourning the loss of their loved ones. The mosque is surrounded by Taliban personnel, and its entrance gates have been sealed. Behind the mosque’s walls, men with distressed expressions and tearful eyes form lines. Others reach out to offer comfort, pressing their hands and offering their sympathy.
From the women’s section of the mosque on the other side, cries and heart-wrenching wails can be heard. A mother, her heart shattered from the intensity of her grief, seems to have gathered her daughter’s hand from the catastrophic incident at the Mawoud Educational Training Center, her son’s feet from suicide attack on the Abdul Rahim Shaheed High School, and her husband’s blood-soaked boots from the piles of dismembered bodies at the attack on the Imam Zaman Mosque. Her heart, fragmented by pain, sends her unheard cries to the heavens.
Once again, these grief-stricken mothers, dressed in mourning garments, strike their heads and faces with their bare hands, emptying their sorrows with cries that no longer reach anyone’s ears. The pain pours from the cries of these women, filling the eyes of passersby with tears. However, the mourning and lamentation of these mothers in a land that has swallowed the lives of so many young ones is far from over. It was not even a year ago that they mourned the loss of Hussains and Fatimas, and now they sit in grief for the noble Najibullahs.