Kabul hotel attack survivor recounts horror: ‘It was traumatic’

  • Harinder Baweja, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 15, 2015 00:59 IST

Abhay Singh, a 31-year-old Delhi-based businessman who was amongst three Indians to survive the brazen attack at Kabul’s Park Palace guesthouse, spent seven hours holed up in the toilet. “It was a dramatic and traumatic night,’’ Singh said over the phone from Kabul.

“I was sitting in my room when I first heard the sound of gunfire. It was followed by silence but soon there was another burst of fire. I immediately ran into the bathroom, thinking they will have to burst through two doors to get me,’’ Singh said, describing the seven long hours that he spent hiding.

Singh, an education consultant who is working on a venture to bring Afghan children to Delhi’s schools offered prayers and kept thinking of his family and six-year-old son. Since this was his eighth trip to Kabul in one year, he had mobile numbers of Afghan and Indian embassy officials. “I learnt that our embassy officials had rushed to the vicinity of the guest house and they kept texting me through the night.’’

The instructions kept coming: keep your phone on silent so the terrorists don’t hear your phone ring; don’t make phone calls for they might hear you talk; lie low and pile up furniture against the door.

Recounting how he kept hearing chatter through the night, Singh told HT, “The gunmen were looking for foreigners in particular and my heart kept sinking.”

“I thought the terrorists would burst in and get me and I kept thinking of my family and how good life has been to me. I’ve always known Kabul is not safe and bombs have burst here on my previous trips but this time I was caught in the epicentre. I felt hopeful only after I got a text from an embassy official telling me that the Afghan security has arrived.”

“I finally walked out of the bathroom at 3am but only after I heard them calling me by name. I wasn’t sure who was knocking at my door. It could’ve been the Taliban but since the embassy had told me that the Afghan security had moved into the guesthouse, I felt safe coming out.”

“The attack was clearly aimed at deterring us Indians from doing business in Afghanistan, but I’ll be back. I will definitely return to Kabul,” he said.


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