Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hobnobbing With a Hyena in Helmand Province

It’s almost like a dog. Well, except that it could rip your limbs off and grind your bones at once. But for reasons unknown, some members of the Afghan National Police in one of the check posts in Lashkar Gah have decided to domesticate a wild hyena, a beast they caught in the woods.

The hyena, as you will notice in the pictures below, lives inside a man-made den, a small hole burrowed in the ground. It is tied around its neck to a long chain and if the look in its eyes is any indication, the hyena is not enjoying his new home. But at least the soldiers feed it well (they said they do) and occasionally drag it out of the hole for an exhibition to journalists like us.

“It is the angriest beast I’ve ever seen,” said one policeman. Of course, it’s a bone-crusher.

My suggestion: The Afghan Police should start their special K-9 unit – except these canines would not sniff opium, they would chew flesh and bones. Maybe winning against the Taliban is not all that difficult. Just let the beasts out.

And if you know hyenas well enough, you will know who'll have the last laugh.

More photos below:

All photos by Anup Kaphle

Monday, July 06, 2009

Helmand: A Nepalese View

I am not used to my appearance working in my favor. But one of the most frequent compliments I've bagged in Afghanistan is that I look like an Afghan, talk like an Afghan, and without my heavy load of body armor could possibly pass as one. (Graeme has this affliction, too, and is often taken for a freakishly tall Hazara.)

Except for the dust and the war, Afghanistan is not much different from my home, Nepal. Take naan-e afghani, for example. As Afghanistan's national bread, it is a staple in every household, often eaten with vegetables or meat, much like the flour roti of Nepal or India.

Read the complete post (and watch an Afghan police sing a Hindi song) in

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Death of a Soldier

It was only three days ago when Canadians here at the Kandahar Airfield were dancing to techno music, sipping from beer cans and celebrating Canada Day. But the cheers did not last too long. One could sense the air filled with tragedy and faces filled with remorse as Canadians lost one of their soldiers in a major attack yesterday.

Corporal Nicholas Ashley Bulger was killed and five others were injured after the armored vehicle they were traveling in ran over an IED in Zhari district, where the Canadians are fighting to a bloody stalemate with the Taliban. The blast occurred a few seconds after the vehicle carrying the commander of the Canadian forces in Afghanistan, Brig. G. Jonathan Vance, drove past.

My colleague James Murray, who is reporting from Afghanistan for the CBC, spoke to Cpl. Bulger on Canada Day, during which Bulger talked about missing his family and his hope for the future of Afghanistan.

The prayer and eulogy ceremony for Cpl. Bulger concluded just a couple hours ago. His body is now being flown back to Canada. Below are pictures from the ramp ceremony:

All photos by Anup Kaphle

Cpl. Bulgar became the 121st Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan since 2002.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Slideshow: Faces from Afghanistan

Graeme Wood, my colleague at The Atlantic, and I are currently in Afghanistan under a reporting fellowship from the South Asian Journalists Association. You will get to read Graeme's amazing dispatches in his blog Prepared for the Worst, where I also hope to write for the next couple of weeks.

Click here to see my latest photos - Faces from Afghanistan - in the

Click here to see the entire slideshow.