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Kabul Korrespondence

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

Pure coincidence

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Only two days after 100's of Taliban escaped from the Kandahar jail in an amazing display of Taliban ingenuity and brashness, the Taliban have taken control of a village north of Kandahar.

NATO officials have said they are redeploying troops to respond to "any potential threats" from the escaped rebels and that it was not immediately clear if the freed Taliban inmates were among the fighters who seized the villages on Monday.

posted by Travis, 10:56 pm | link | 2 comments |

Unvieling the new Aina Photo Office.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Fardin, Jawad, Sonia and I have been working hard to get the new office looking great and ready for business. We were lucky enough to have the founder of Aina Photo: Manoocher Deghati come to Kabul and check out our new dwelling.

posted by Travis, 10:46 am | link | 5 comments |

2008: The year of the audacious Taliban attacks

First the attack on the Serena Hotel in Kabul, now the Taliban fighters have attacked the main prison in Kanadahar in southern Afghanistan, blasting through its entrance and engaging in a gun battle with police.

Nearly all of the estimated 1,150 prisoners, including up to 400 Taliban, have escaped, Afghan officials have said. Fighters attacked the main prison in Kandahar on Friday with a car bomb and rockets, killing police and freeing prisoners, according to the officials.

Officials with Nato's International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said they were aware of the attack but did not have any details.

A Taliban spokesperson said that two suicide bombers blew themselves up near the entrance of the gate to the prison before 30 Taliban fighters on motorcycles attacked and killed 16 policemen.

Kandahar jail was the scene of a mass hunger strike by hundreds of inmates in May, during which 47 of the prisoners sewed their lips shut after complaining they had been tortured and denied fair trials.

posted by Travis, 10:46 am | link | 2 comments |

Worlds Largest Drug Bust

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Afghan counter-narcotics officials said Wednesday that they uncovered 260 tons of hashish hidden in 6-foot-deep trenches in southern Afghanistan in what one DEA official said appears to be the world's biggest drug bust. The hashish weighed as much as 30 double-decker London buses, ISAF said. The drugs were burned on site. Afghanistan's biggest drug problem is not hashish but opium. The country produced 9,000 tons last year, enough to make over 880 tons of heroin — 93 percent of the world's supply. 

But officials have increased warnings that farmers who no longer grow opium poppies because of successful eradication programs have turned their fields to cannabis, the plant used to produce hashish and marijuana, giving the country a second drug problem to contend with. Forty-three members of the country's counter-narcotics police were killed during eradication operations this spring, he said.

(Not the same drugs, [this is 6 tonnes] so imagine a pile 43 times this size)

Questions that comes to mind:
Where was this hashish destined for?
How do you burn 260 tons of Hashish?
(Some sources say the military bombed the site)
And why would you hide all your 'stash' in one place?

posted by Travis, 9:50 pm | link | 2 comments |

All back in the Hood

Last week, Oliver arrived in town, Travis arrived this week and Sharna has been here for a month or so. Now that all three are 'in country' they are joining their forces to propel Skateistan into its next phase: acquiring land, building ramps and starting teaching. If you wana help them help the Afghan youth, buy a T-shirt, donate some spare change or come over and help teach the kids!
posted by Travis, 9:27 pm | link | 8 comments |

Car Park RIP

Monday, June 09, 2008

It was a happy day for us when we found the car parking and we thought that it’s a good place for us that we can practice till we get our own skate park. For weeks Travis and us skated there and we learnt a lot in this place with smooth clean concrete. Then Sharna came back from Australia and she was so excited to see the car park we went there with her to see that place. She likes it because it was a good flat place and of course it was secure place for us. We were happy thing for us was that we were not alone to skate there we were teaching the security guards the shopkeepers and everybody who was coming there and we had communication with each other and we have guys that want to learn.

But the happy days became sad days. On the night of the pool party we met a German guy who was also very interested to skate with us. So I called the security guards that we are coming to skate and he told me that its not possible to skate there anymore….. I didn’t under stand what had happened, so I called Hamid and told him to go and check it out. Munir and Hamid went there and the security guard told them they reject us because the Boss (Police commander) said that this people cannot come here anymore because it’s not safe. They asked him if we did something wrong or did they want us to give them bakhshish (bribe) to enter the car park. The guard told us that nothing is wrong and bakhshish would not work.

We also talked to the owner of that car parking and he also rejected us, but that it was not his decision. He said that Police is not allowing me to give you permission, he wished he could let us skate but it was out of his power.

Since we started skating we have found good friends who really want to help us to build skate park in Afghanistan so that we can continue this sport. But just because of some people that may be jealous we are always stopped from having fun. We are not loosing hope and our mission to have our own, safe place to skate in Afghanistan.

If security was the real issue with the carpark, then we can tell that Afghanistan is not a place where you can have fun and it’s not a place where you can spend your holidays. Every step is a danger, but we don’t let this control our lives and stop us from enjoying this excellent sport.

Best regards
Nabil and Hameed
posted by Travis, 10:41 am | link | 2 comments |

BBC journalist killed in the south of the country

We express deep sadness at the murder of Abdul Samad Rohani, 25, a journalist working for the Pashtu service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

The journalist's body was found near the city of Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, one day after he was kidnapped. The previous day, 7 June, a contributor to BBC radio and television was killed in Somalia.

Samad Rohani was the head of the BBC's Pashtu service in Helmand province. He had also worked with the Afghan independent news agency Pajhwok since 2004. His colleagues told Reporters Without Borders that he had received several phone threats from a local chief who accused him of supporting the Kabul government and of "boycotting" news put out by the Taliban. Rohani's home was the target of an attack in his absence in 2006.

"He was one of our best journalists. He covered a very difficult region. It is a serious blow for press freedom, but they will not manage to silence people with these kinds of acts" said Lotfolah Latif, editor for the BBC in Afghanistan. Danish Karokhel, director of Pajhwok, told Reporters Without Borders of his fears for the safety of journalists who "come under a huge amount of pressure for their independent and impartial work". The Afghan authorities strongly condemned "this vicious murder".

R.I.P. Abdul Samad Rohani
posted by Travis, 9:44 am | link | 0 comments |

I wouldnt miss it for the world...

Well actually I did. Donna told me about this event a week ago when I was back in Melbourne. I had to make a decision: Go Back to Afghanistan or stay and join the Zombies... I'm kicking myself right now. If you are in Melbourne, then please go on my behalf and terrorise the CBD in true zombie style.

Info: Melbourne Zombie Shuffle
Host: the living dead

Date: Saturday, June 14, 2008
Time: 12:30pm - 2:00pm
Location: Carlton Gardens and beyond
Street: Cnr Rathdowne & Victoria
City/Town: Melbourne, Australia

Contact Info
Email: zombieshufflemelbourne@gmail.com

posted by Travis, 9:35 am | link | 0 comments |

To Embed or not to Embed that is the question...

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Ever since I started working in a conflict zone, I have battled with the question:
Is Embedding with the military as a journalist the correct and most effective way to report on how the conflict effects both the locals and the visiting 'guests'.

Click on the following link to hear a US soldiers own words on the topic:


(Take note this video contains some graphic material)

posted by Travis, 2:05 pm | link | 0 comments |