Fiction becomes reality at deadly Kabul theatre blast
Audience members who survived a suicide bomb at the French cultural institute in Kabul told Friday told how they initially thought the explosion was part of the performance, which was about the impact of such attacks.
At least one German man was killed and 15 other people wounded in the blast on Thursday evening inside the packed auditorium of the French Institute of Afghanistan, a popular venue for the performing arts.
"Suddenly a loud explosion erupted, and I fell down on my face and I thought it was part of the show," Ahmad Nasir Sarmast, head of Afghanistan's National Institute of Music, told AFP.
"But when I opened my eyes I was lying on the body of woman.
"I stood up and saw a foreigner who lost half the side of his face. Then I rushed to the stage since my students were performing and fortunately they were not wounded."
Sarmast, who was hit by shrapnel in his head, back and leg, was taken to Kabul's Italian-run Emergency hospital.
"This was an attack on culture, an attack on education," he said, still suffering from deep shock as he lay in his bed with bandages wrapped around his head.
The title of the show was "Heartbeat, The Silence After The Explosion", a dance and music show condemning the regular suicide attacks that explode in Kabul and across Afghanistan.
Many of the attacks target NATO military convoys, foreign security compounds or Afghan government facilities, but civilians make up many of the casualties.
Another suicide attack on Thursday in Kabul killed six Afghan troops travelling in an army bus.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed both bombings in separate email statements, saying the theatre show was "desecrating Islamic values" and "propaganda against jihad".
The French cultural institute is a buzzing social venue for young Afghans and it shares premises with the Istiqlal school, a French-financed high school that has taught generations of local children.
One German man working for a local aid organisation was killed, the foreign ministry in Berlin confirmed.
Afghan police put the toll at one dead and 15 wounded, though French officials said several people had died.
Shekib Mohammadi, 23, a cameraman for a local television station, told AFP: "You can not believe it -- in such a safe place with good security, an explosion targets innocent people.
"The hall was packed, and we were filming the show. After 10 to 20 minutes everyone was focused on the programme then the explosion occurred.
"I could only see with one eye as people rushed outside."
Mohammadi, who was being treated for injuries to his left eye, hands, back and ears, said that the many suicide attacks in Kabul in recent weeks had made him fear the worst.
"My heart was telling me that I would face such an explosion, since we had a lot of attacks recently," he said.
© 2014 AFP