14 Jul. 2008

German officer provided critical information at scene of Kabul bombing

KABUL, Afghanistan - A German officer provided critical on-scene information to ISAF headquarters following a suicide bomb blast at the Indian embassy here July 7.

Lieutenant Colonel Andreas Eichhorn was working as a liaison officer at the Afghan National Police Coordination Centre across the street at the time of the blast.  At about 8:30 a.m., the NPCC building shook, lamps fell over and dust rained from the ceiling.

Initially, no one in the building knew what had happened, but as soon as the first report came in that a car bomb had exploded in the street, Eichhorn sprang into action.

“I grabbed my body armour and helmet ... and I went [outside] to the gate in order to get some information,” said Eichhorn, who is deployed to ISAF from the German Division for Special Operations.

He immediately began calling back to ISAF headquarters with a first-hand account of what had happened. His information helped controllers in the ISAF operations centre make sense of the multiple, conflicting reports.

After convincing the Afghan National Security Force guards to allow him to enter the street, Eichhorn walked about 150 meters to the heart of the scene.

“In a circle of 50 meters, the buildings had no facades. A 30-meter gap was breached at the Indian embassy’s main gate. In the middle of the gap, the remains of the car carrying the deadly cargo were stuck,” he described.

Eichhorn explained that the tragedy of the event was that markets and shops were across the street, normally making the area crowded in the mornings.

The explosion killed 42 people and wounded an additional 147.

“We saw bloody clothes, shoes and sandals lying around,” he recalled, adding that it was the images and smell from the large pools of blood that he will never forget.

Though, Eichhorn was initially cautious about possible secondary devices, he said he soon felt safe with the large numbers of Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army troops securing the area.

“They had the situation completely under control,” Eichhorn said.

For his quick efforts to keep ISAF apprised of the situation, Eichhorn received a recognition coin from German Major General Hans-Lothar Domröse, ISAF Chief of Staff, June 8.

Contact Information ISAF Public Information Office
Tel: +93 (0)79 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/