Security is always risky in Kabul, as it is in the entire Afghanistan-Pakistan theater. But the May 2 U.S. raid into Pakistan and killing of Osama bin Laden has raised the risk of retaliation against international representatives, including journalists.
Reuters reported today that the Taliban had claimed responsibility for the bomb attack on two U.S. consulate vehicles in the northwestern Pakistan city of Peshawar. Two people were killed and 10 injured, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said. “We carried out today’s attack to avenge the death of Osama bin Laden,” Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told Reuters.
It is in that context that several foreign journalists based in Pakistan and Afghanistan forwarded us a copy of an email message from a Western embassy in Kabul, copied to scores of journalists in Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan. It warns:
As at 11 May 2011, we have been made aware of an increased threat of kidnap to an unidentified international journalist within Kabul. Please pass this information to any journalist contacts you may have, so that their security providers can mitigate against the threat. Unfortunately I do not have any further information on this threat.
The security officer warned the recipients to “PLEASE READ AND REMAIN VIGILANT” and to forward the message to anyone not included on the message’s CC list.
International journalists with whom I’ve been messaging say the warning reinforces what they had prepared for even before the Abbottabad attack. Concern for personal security is part of the reality of covering the conflict. The May 11 warning is another reminder.