【今期马报免费资料彩图_今期马报免费资料彩图官网】Feature: Kabul's first

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KABUL, April 13 (Xinhua) -- On the banks of the muddy and polluted Kabul River, a private company in joint cooperation with the Kabul Municipality took the initiative to build the first-ever amusement park here in the heart of the Afghan capital city a couple of years ago.

An upswing in insurgency and growing militants' attacks have failed to prevent thousands of people including women and girls from visiting and enjoying the park, called Park-e-Shahr (City Park), since it opened around three years ago.

Heavily fortified with tall concrete barriers and with armed security guards on duty, the small recreational enclave offers families a few hours respite in the afternoons from the agonies of lingering strife and turmoil related to the ongoing conflict.

"The park's rides and entertainment, such as the roller coaster, Ferris wheel and bumper cars are among more than 20 types of amusement facilities," Habibullah Esmati, Director of the City Park, told Xinhua.

"Many of the facilities were purchased and imported from big Chinese companies, and the game zone is the same as those in developed and developing countries," Esmati, also General Director of the Esmati Group, said.

The beautiful park, with its 45-meter-tall peace tower, is a pleasant distraction for the many enthusiasts who pay frequent visits.

To add to the beauty of the park, Esmati said that his company several months ago bought a decommissioned commercial plane and converted it into a restaurant and movie theater. With a capacity of 70 people, the 3D cinema has become a really hit at the county's only amusement park.

The park is usually open between 9:00 a.m. and midnight, with the peak visiting times being Friday afternoon, following the end of the week Islamic prayers. Saturdays and Sundays are also a popular time for families to visit.

The park has 93 personnel catering to around 5000 visitors during a regular day. But during Eids (religious festivals) and Nawroz (Afghan New Year), the park has to recruit an additional 2500 staff to help with the huge influxes of visitors.

"More than 1500,000 people have visited the park in the past few days of Nawroz, while it had more than 2.2 million visitors last year," said Esmati, adding the country lacked any other entertainment parks with such proper electric-powered facilities that families can enjoy together with their children.

The partnership between the Kabul Municipality and a private company may have resulted in Kabul residents being able to escape the harsh realities of conflict when visiting the park, but the director complained about what he described as the "failure of the government" to support them in developing the park.

"Rather than supporting us, they make it hard for us. They, sometimes, impose high taxes on the park," Esmati lamented.

Up to 3.7 million U.S. dollars has been invested to build the park on the 13-acre land in the heart of the city, where violent incidents including suicide attacks are not uncommon, he said.

Esmati added that the recreational site, frequented largely by civilians including women and children, has no security problems.