Afghanistan

Rocket Attack Diverts Bildt's Plane

A rocket attack at an airport in Kabul, Afghanistan stopped Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt from landing there Tuesday. Bildt and UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon were diverted from one US military base to another further north during a trip to Afghanistan for the international ministers conference.

News agency TT reports that just after midnight, with their plane just minutes away, rockets were fired at the landing strip. The ministers' plane circled over Kabul for several hours before being diverted.

Bildt was headed for an international conference of 40 foreign ministers of countries donating aid, along with President Hamid Karzai, about the Afghanistan's future. His plane was rerouted through the US base in Bagram.

Carl Bildt seemed unfazed by the attack.

“The rocket attack meant that we lost a couple hours of sleep but otherwise the political impact was limited,” he tells Swedish Radio news.

The conference that Bildt and others attended on Tuesday was the largest aid meeting for Afghanistan in three decades, reports the BBC.

Members discussed Karzai’s hopes to take control of security in his country by 2014, a plan which donor countries look to be endorsing, including Sweden. He also wants contributing nations to raise their financial support to 50 percent.

Sweden has 500 troops stationed in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force and has committed upwards of 270 million dollars a year to Afghanistan, between troops and foreign aid money.

“The general goal is to strengthen the civil society in Afghanistan,” says Anders Jörle from Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Magnus Försberg works for the NGO, Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, which has contributed aid with health, education, development and rehabilitation for the past 28 years. He says that people are scared.

“Since there is such a presence of foreign ministers, it’s a good opportunity for the opposition to act and then get a lot of media attention,” Försberg says.

Nevertheless, he does not think the attacks will have an effect on the conference, which he hopes will focus on civilian missions, rather than pouring in more troops or more money.

But as international leaders shared their visions for the future of Afghanistan, nothing is certain. Tuesday’s rocket attacks show just how tenuous the situation in Afghanistan is.