A massive bomb exploded this morning in Afghanistan’s heavily fortified embassy quarter close to the German embassy. Reports so far speak of at least 80 dead and hundreds injured. No group has claimed responsibility, but then of course Afghanistan is home to several insurgent groups.
Kabul is no stranger to mass-casualty attacks – in February more than 30 were killed by insurgents who attacked a military hospital. But this morning’s bomb is particularly noteworthy because the perpetrators have managed to penetrate the security cordon surrrounding the embassy quarter and cause massive destruction. In this sense, the attack is a manifestation of the reach of the insurgents and the inefficiency of the Afghan government.
The US and NATO still retain some 13.000 – 14.000 troops in Afghanistan, but the West has largely withdrawn from the fight between the government and insurgent forces, most notably the Taliban. It was claimed back then that the government forces would be able to handle the Taliban on their own; a claim which appeared improbable at the time and which has been proven wrong by subsequent events.
In other words, Afghanistan remains a high-risk destination throughout, including “secured” areas, as today’s tragic events demonstrate all too clearly, and will likely remain so for years.
You will need to retain security professionals before travelling. Preparation, training, and close protection during your travels is likely absolutely necessary. Standard advice, common sense and experience will not suffice. This is very important to bear in mind. Employers should make sure they meet their duty of care obligations towards employees; relying on security provided by Afghan government forces is not enough.
Many countries advice against travel to all, or parts, of Afghanistan. Note that some western governments tend to downplay the risk somewhat, especially in Kabul, likely for diplomatic reasons. You should make sure if your travel insurance and/or health insurance covers terrorism and war-like events, including medical injuries, medevac, and repatriation. Note that public travel advice issued by your home country’s foreign ministry, or possibly another as stipulated by the Insurer, may limit cover. But when travelling to Afghanistan you should be fully covered for any and all events related to war, insurgency, terrorism, unrest and similar. You may also consider a kidnap- and ransom insurance, which should cover extortion as well.