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Kabul Korrespondence

Fresh, factual, and funky view of Afghanistan and the surrounding Central Asian region

Aussies hurt in Afghan blast

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Paul Bibby
April 30, 2008

TWO Australian journalists were wounded in a suicide bombing that killed about 15 people in Afghanistan yesterday, just two days after an Australian commando was killed in battle.

Freelance photographers Stephen Dupont, 41, and Paul Rafael, 64, were injured when the bomber struck during an anti-drugs meeting in the town of Khogyani in the eastern province of Nangarhar, the ABC reported.

A witness reported that the bomber was a young boy.

The Department of Foreign Affairs would not confirm the names of the journalists last night, but a department spokeswoman said one of the men was seriously injured and was flown to a US military hospital. The other was treated at the scene.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing.

"Locals were sitting on the ground as the district authorities … were talking to them, saying they should not grow opium," the man said. "I saw a young boy who was carrying white papers wandering around the crowd … all of a sudden I saw a big, red flame from among the crowd where the boy was standing and a big explosion followed."

Dupont is one of Australia's leading photo-journalists. He has won a series of prestigious international awards, including several World Press Photo awards.

On Sunday, Australian commando Lance Corporal Jason Marks became the fifth Australian killed during the conflict in Afghanistan. He was shot dead in Oruzgan province when his security detachment engaged a group of Taliban fighters.

posted by Travis, 8:37 am | link | 1 comments |

Aina Photographer shoots and gets shot by President!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This week our staff photographer Fardin Waezi had the pleasure of working with a French journalists that interviewed President Karzai. At the end of the interview, Fardin had his picture taken with Karzai.

Then the President took the camera and said 'Now photographer, I will take you portrait." Not a bad shot for a President.

And if that wasn't enough, in an interview the next day Fardin shot ex Taliban member Mullah Rocket! Mullah Rocket urned his name because he reputed to be the best RPG shot in Afghanistan.

Fardin, What a week!

posted by Travis, 2:27 pm | link | 1 comments |

K.K. goes live on radio each month!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

An exciting new element to the Kabul Korrespondence transmissions will be K.K. live on 3RRR radio next Tuesday around 10.30 am. K.K. will be talking with presenter Michelle Bennett each month on her morning show 'Spoke'.

So if you dont like reading, surfing or scrolling, then you can always listen to K.K. on 3RRR from the comfort of your armchair, car seat or bed (depending on your morning hours).
posted by Travis, 1:27 pm | link | 1 comments |

Skateistan cracks Italy

Monday, April 21, 2008

Check it out


Ok, if you cant read Italian, it basically says we are doing good stuff for Afghans and that we are good ambassadors for the wider skateboarding community.

Congratulazioni dei tipi per Skateistan!
posted by Travis, 11:03 pm | link | 0 comments |


Oliver, Logistics Officer for Skateistan today secured a donation of $6000 worth of safety equipment from TSG of Switzerland. TSG is the world's leader in manufacturing of skate, snowboard and BMX protection gear. TSG is going to supply Skateistan with the latest in helmets, knee pads, shoulder pads and gloves for our wee skater students!

THANK YOU Oliver and TSG!

posted by Travis, 4:50 pm | link | 0 comments |

Panjshir Expedition

Last week the Kabul Knights accomplished one of their long term goals: to ride to the Panjshir Valley (and back). The Panjshir is famous for being the only area of Afghanistan not taken by the Taliban in their 6 year domination of the country. It was defended by the Northern Alliance and particularly their leader Massoud. His remains were buried after he was assassinated by a bomb hidden in a video camera.

KKMC - Born to ride.

We stopped at one of the many decadently decorated petrol stations to refuel.

Our newest member Mike was showing off the howling wolf paint job on his fuel tank.

It is believed that the locals (The Panjshiri') still have quite a substantial stock of arms hidden in the mountains. For this reason the security check at the entrance to the valley is pretty tight.

The Kabul Knights get through and we follow the winding roads between valleys of stunning red and brown rock cliffs, topped with a crisp icing of gleaming white snow.

Spring is here and the KKMC stop for a picnic under some shady trees.

We always welcome female riders to join us. When we pull into a small town it can be quite a cultural challenge for the locals to see a Western women get off a bike. But the girls do dress in appropriate clothing.

On the way back, 2 of our bikes broke down. Mine had water in the fuel, so I had to blow all the fuel out of the tank. hhhmmm tasty! The Panshiri laughed when I asked: "Anyone got a light?"

I also had dirty spark plugs. Michael Jackson just happening to be passing by, he stopped and cleaned them for us.

While we were busy fixing my bikes 101 problems, Jeremy's bike fell over and broke the throttle. This translating into an un-rideable bike.... We discussed with our new Panjshiri friend (weekend mechanic) what we should do? He almost convinced us to tie two Afghan scarves together and tow the bike home, by holding on to the scarves with our hand!

After some umming and arhhing we decided to leave the bike there to be picked up at a later date. The Panjshiri were very adamant about us being able to verify that we owned the bike on pick up. So our same mechanic friend took a 20 Af note (0.40 US cents) and tore it half (0.20 US cents). He gave half to us and said "When you come to pick the bike present us with your half of the 20 Afs, if the serial numbers match then we will give you the bike!"

Sure enough, later that week Jeremy sent up an Afghan friend to pick up the bike. When he presented the half a 20 Af note, the Panjshiri gave him the bike. He repaired the throttle and rode it back to Kabul.

We also made it back to Kabul as the sun was setting on the dust enveloped city.

posted by Travis, 4:29 pm | link | 7 comments |

ISAF: "Woops...."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

ISAF denies supplying Taliban with weapons

Written by quqnoos

MPs said weapons drop was deliberate; ISAF blames 'human error'

COALITION forces have denied allegations that they deliberately supplied weapons to the Taliban in Zabul at the end of last month.

The Internal Security Affairs Commission of the Upper House said on Monday that ISAF forces had deliberately air-dropped Kalashnikovs, rocket-propelled grenades and 550,000 bullets to Taliban fighters in the province.

Today (Thursday), ISAF said: “These allegations are completely false.”

The coalition said it dispatched a helicopter to deliver arms to a remote Afghan National Police outpost Ghazni but, because of a “human error”, the cache was dropped in the wrong place.

The area was searched with aircraft but the cache was never found, ISAF said. ISAF denies the cache contained guns, but said the crates contained 7.62mm small arms ammunition, rocket-propelled grenades, food and water.

ISAF said it informed the government of the mistake but the internal security commission refused to believe that the drop was an accident.

The head of the commission, Zalmay Mujaddedi, said that local Taliban commander Mulla Muhammad Alam was in the same area where the drop was made.

At the time, Zabul MP, Hamidullah Tokhi, said: "I wonder how does Muhammad Alam on the same night comes to a house 100 meters from the site where the helicopters drop rockets, bullets, Kalashnikovs, arms and food and logistics?
posted by Travis, 6:21 pm | link | 0 comments |

Skateboard in Dari?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

While developing the Skateistan project we are always trying to be as culturally insightful as possible. So we were thinking it would be logical and cool to invent a word's for 'Skateboard' in Dari.

So to all the Dari / English / Farsi speakers out there, we want to hear your suggestions. The word should be combination of the English word 'board' and either 'move', 'roll', 'skate', or something that describes the motion of skating.

So please email your suggestions to skateistan@gmail.com and the best word/s suggestion will win a Skateistan T shirt!

PS: if you don't win you can still buy T shirts at our web site.

posted by Travis, 2:54 pm | link | 4 comments |

We have Car Park!

Der Spiegel Interview Skateistan

For those who don't know Der Spiegel, it is a weekly German magazine with the same stature as Time magazine in the US. We took the journo down to Ghazi Stadium for a skate sesh with the Skateistan crew and showed em how its done.


The boys are at the level now in their learning where they are obsessed with landing an ollie._mg_1276b.jpg

They can get the air and look hot in a still frame.


But the next shots shows that they aint perfect the landing as of yet.

Then out of no where Massoud landed the first ever Afghan ollie and we got it on film!

And I did some funky stuff on a chunk of metal.

We have Car Park!

The next day Hameed came to my place and told me he'd found a new place to skate. We'd been kicked out of a few locations lately, so smooth concrete is a scarce resource.




The car park turned out to be a lot of fun, the ramp and curbs were as good as in the west.


We had a lot of fun teaching the boys how to ride down the ramp. Difference here is that the guard was a friend of ours, so we didnt have to do the runner every time he came down.


Hameed's determination paid off later when he landed his first ollie. Nice work bro.

Curiosity got the better of the guard and he and his mates ended up giving it a go.

So its not a skate park, but it is certainly a clean, smooth, safe area for us to skate in until the park is ready. Which we are all dreaming about and praying to the skate gods that we find enough funding to start building ASAP.
posted by Travis, 11:54 am | link | 1 comments |

Freedom of the Press

Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein has been released from a U.S. military prison in Baghdad today. Hussein, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer working for the Associated Press in Iraq, was freed from U.S. military custody on Wednesday after being held for more than two years without charge.
posted by Travis, 12:51 am | link | 1 comments |

Oh no! T-shirts, pigeon-flying, make-up and loud music may be banned

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Written by Hamed Haidary

Draft law calls for ban on 'offensive' traditions and 'Western' culture

PARLIAMENT has been handed draft legislation that calls for a vast array of anti-modern laws to be imposed on all sections of society in another sign of the so-called “Talibanisation” of Afghanistan.

Heavy fines would be dished out to anyone who fails to obey the new laws, and vehicles travelling into the country would be searched for material deemed offensive to Islam under the new law.

The legislation would ban:

• Men from wearing bracelets, designer jeans, necklaces, earrings and T-shirts

• Men from growing their hair long, “like a girl’s”

• Pigeon flying, animal fighting and playing with birds on rooftops

• Men and women from talking with each other in public, unless they are related

• Loud music and loud speakers at weddings and restaurants

• Betting in snooker clubs

• Shops selling “revealing” clothing

• TVs, radios and cable companies from airing programmes that are anti-Islamic and detrimental to the young

• People from selling, keeping or importing DVDs or photos of naked or semi-naked women

• People from swearing at children or women in public

. Girls would also have to start wearing the Hejab “properly” by covering all of their hair with the shawl.
posted by Travis, 11:34 pm | link | 0 comments |

Pakistan seizes 90,000 bags of smuggled flour

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Written by quqnoos

PAKISTAN’S Frontier Corps (FC) says it has seized about 90,000 bags of flour from smugglers trying to bring the food into Afghanistan during the last 10 days of March.

Since the government declared flour smuggling illegal, hundreds of smugglers have been arrested, a government statement said Saturday (April 5).

Last week in the Mohmand Agency, the FC seized 500 bags of flour in one day, which amounts to about 30,000kg of wheat, exposing a flour-smuggling racket that led to scores of arrests.

Afghan businessmen at a recent meeting of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry lashed out at the government for failing to stop the FC from seizing legal imports of flour.

Residents in Kabul, and many other provinces, are suffering because of dramatic increases in the cost of basic food, such as flour and bread.

A 50kg bag of flour has risen by about Afg200 in the last month and the cost of bread has almost doubled in the capital over the same period, leaving many Kabulis unable to afford it.
posted by Travis, 11:40 am | link | 0 comments |

Quote of the day

The words of an Afghan lawyer, Belquis Ahmadi, ring true concerning the Taliban Period:

“Afghan women have lost lives, family members, basic human rights, human dignity and the right to be respected. Soon they might lose something that destroys humanity. They might lose hope.”

People outside Afghanistan always ask me:
"Has the situation got better for Afghan women?"

Some things have improved.
Some are still the same.
A lot more must be done.

Stoned to death for committing adultery

Sydney Morning Herald, Australia: Dylan Welch
April 3, 2008

A man and a woman have reportedly been stoned to death by the Taliban after being found guilty of adultery by a tribal court in Pakistan's border region.

The stoning was carried out in a tribal area on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan where the Taliban has a strong presence, Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported.

The killings are the first recorded incident of death by stoning by the militants, who usually put accused before firing squads, the newspaper stated.

The pair had been captured by the Taliban after eloping about two weeks ago from a border area known as the Mohmand Agency.

They tried the couple, found them guilty and sentenced them to death by stoning.

After the executions were carried out the man's body was handed over to his relatives. The body of the woman was buried in the area by local people, the newspaper stated.

posted by Travis, 10:33 am | link | 0 comments |

Born to Ride!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I flew into Kabul with visions of spring in full force. Roses blossoming, Friday picnics and comfortable 25.c sunny days. Instead I was met with a slightly cold bite in the air and rain filled days. I was convinced by friends that it was a blessing for the Afghan farmers, who are potentially staring down the barrel at a drought riddled summer. So I didn't complain, but it certainly wasn't ripe weather for skateboarding or motorcycle adventures.

We have a good working relationship with a mechanic named Hameed, who's workshop is located on a muddy back street of Kabul. They can fix anything, which helps when you are riding Chinese motorcycles. Afghan's love to 'supe' up their weak 150cc bikes to look like 500cc racing bikes.

Yesterday, contrary to weather predictions the sun shone. Spring is here and of course this meant it was time to ride! We have two new members in the club: Frauke and Jean. Welcome.

We headed up to Pahgman, my little roadster (The Super Kabul) struggled to keep up with their off road bikes on the rock/boulder invested mountain tracks.

But me and Lolita (that's my bikes name if you didn't already know) made it and I was rewarded with green tea and sugary biscuits, Lolita a wash in the river.

Jean was keen to test out his new Japanese Suzuki, so off down the mountain he careered. He made it down in one piece.

We cruised down one of the most visually stunning roads in Kabul district to Kargah lake and stopped for a quick happy snap.

Still not satisfied, we continued up towards Bagram. Where the international forces have their main air base and coincidentally a great black market just to the left of the entrance!

Jeremy still recovering from the night before, met us on the road back and brought a camel along as back up.

Riding a motorcycle is no doubt a buzz. But riding a motorcycle in such a breath taking country as Afghanistan is another thing. When your not concentrating on pot holes in the road and military convoys telling you to get off the road as they roar through. You get a chance to take in the surroundings which are really beyond a 1000 words.
posted by Travis, 10:57 am | link | 2 comments |

Making history

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Today I was pleasantly informed that I was registered as subscriber # 146949 in the 3RRR April Amnesty. But the more satisfying news was when they told me I was the first ever subsciber from the Afghanistan!


Internet connections speeds in Afghanistan at the best of times are dead slow in comparison to the West. But out of all the radio websites online from australia, 3RRR streams the best. But this is not the only reason why I listen.

It also rocks!

So if you do listen to 3RRR and have not subscribed, your geographic positioning cant be used an excuse.

posted by Travis, 6:06 pm | link | 1 comments |

Another publication in the bag for Aina Photo

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Aina Photo was commissioned to provide images of French ISAF personal for the french newspaper: Le Journal du Dimanche.

Well done Fardin!
posted by Travis, 10:21 pm | link | 0 comments |


After weeks of tweaking from us and the great graphic designer volunteers, we are proud to present the new skateistan logo. All T-shirts, badges, stickers and other organisational materials will now have this logo.

posted by Travis, 8:31 pm | link | 1 comments |

Afghan Real Estate

The first task in my skate agenda is to find some land for us to build our skate school. Real estate in Kabul is not like in the west. Its all about who you know and who they know. So with a little help from my friends we started to look at locations.

The first place had a lovely house, good rooms and a dog. But the yard was too small for a skate park.

The second one was in a great location, had good neighbours and was a huge block. Unfortunately there was no power or water installed and they were asking a lot for the property.

Our third option was again in a good location, had ample room for the skate park and was connected to power and water. The bonus was it had a cute little house at the back of it, that is currently being restored. This would be perfect for our offices and then we would just need to build another room for classes. For me this one had the best 'feeling' and potential.

But this is only the start of it. I have other 'estate agents' to go through and other neighbourhoods to explore. So stayed tuned.

posted by Travis, 7:54 pm | link | 2 comments |

A street named Ajmal

Kabul - As a token of paying tribute to late Afghan journalist Ajmal Naqshbandi who was brutally beheaded by Taliban insurgents last year, authorities here in the Afghan capital named a street after him on Monday.

The street named "Ajmal Naqshbandi Avenue" is the first of its kind named after a journalist killed in Afghanistan.

While unveiling the plaque of the avenue, President of the Afghanistan National Journalist Union Abdul Hamid Mubariz slammed Taliban for executing the late Naqshbandi and called on journalist communities to work for strengthening expression freedom in the country.

Naqshbandi, 20, who worked as free lance journalist and accompanied an Italian reporter in the restive Helmand province last year, was kidnapped and then beheaded by Taliban.

However, the militants set free the Italian journalist in exchange for five Taliban prisoners.

Conflicts and civil strife have claimed the lives of several journalists over the nearly three decades in Afghanistan.


posted by Travis, 7:31 pm | link | 1 comments |

Aina Photo and NATO work together

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Aina Photo was proud to work in collaboration with NATO on a conference of Afghanistan Academics at NATO HQ in Brussels in March this year.

check it out:


posted by Travis, 5:40 pm | link | 6 comments |