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Foreigners Targeted In Multiple Kabul Attacks


That's the sound of a deadly attack in Kabul today amid a surge in militant violence in the Afghan capital. It comes on the very day the Afghan Parliament ratified a security agreement with the U.S. that will allow up to 10,000 U.S. troops there until they leave in 2016. NPR's Sean Carberry is in Kabul and joins us on the line. Sean, there's been a series of attacks today, including one on a foreign compound. Tell us what you've learned.

SEAN CARBERRY, BYLINE: There were four men who launched an attack on a compound - a guest house - for foreign workers. And one blew himself up outside, two tried to fight their way in. There was a period where it seemed like the attack was over. Officials said it was done. Then, suddenly, more explosions and gunfire for another couple of hours until finally they killed the last militant. And the one thing they've said so far is only one security guard at the compound was wounded. There were no foreign casualties, no security forces, and all militants were finally killed. But it took about five to six hours to resolve this attack.

SHAPIRO: And earlier today there was an attack on a British convoy where there were international fatalities. Tell us more about that.

CARBERRY: Yeah. This was a convoy of British Embassy vehicles that were hit by a car bomb, killing one British national and one Afghan interpreter working for the embassy. Three other Afghan civilians were killed in that attack. And there have been a lot of attacks of this nature this month - a lot of attacks on convoys. There was an attempt on a member of Parliament. It's been the most violent month in Kabul that I can remember since I've been here.

SHAPIRO: Help us get some insight into why - why the sudden spike in violence?

CARBERRY: Well, Afghan officials say the Taliban couldn't successfully take over remote areas where they had been fighting a lot for the last couple months and have moved into the city to kind of sew chaos and basically create panic. Westerners here are speculating that it's tied to the drawdown of foreign forces because they are not out around the country as much. They've withdrawn into bases in places like Kabul. So in order to attack foreign forces you have to attack in the cities. And at this point, the speculation is this is the playing field for the foreseeable future.

SHAPIRO: And as we mentioned, this comes the same day the Afghan Parliament ratified a security agreement. Talk about the significance of that deal.

CARBERRY: So this long-anticipated deal finally ratified - will allow U.S. troops to stay beyond this year. And they're supposed to carry out two primary missions. One is counterterrorism operations to continue going after any type of al Qaeda remnants here. And the other is to continue training and advising and assisting Afghan forces. And it'll involve things like tonight where there were NATO helicopters circling and involved in this operation, as well as some advisers on the ground with Afghan forces. So that type of operation will be continuing through the next couple of years.

SHAPIRO: And finally, Sean, on this Thanksgiving Day some 16,000 American troops are spending the holiday in Afghanistan. You spent time with some of them today. Describe the scene.

CARBERRY: The scene was actually pretty festive. The dining hall at NATO Headquarters was decorated with everything you'd expect to see. They had turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pies. And people were making the most of it. They were saying that as much as they miss their families, they enjoy the company of their fellow service members. And many of them were saying they were looking forward to Skype calls to family back home.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Sean Carberry speaking with us from Kabul. Thank you, Sean.

CARBERRY: You're welcome, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sean Carberry is NPR's international correspondent based in Kabul. His work can be heard on all of NPR's award-winning programs, including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.