The fighting hits Timbuktu, but soccer's still on television.
DJENNE, Mali—The evening French and Malian troops entered the former Islamist stronghold of Timbuktu the men of Djenné, 200 miles to the southwest, gathered under the thatch awnings of mercantiles that flank the dusty square before the Sudanic clay steeples of the 12th-century Grande Mosque. They arranged overturned plastic buckets and rope chairs and wooden benches into impromptu amphitheaters in front of the small television sets they had balanced on cases of water bottles and soda and crackers. READ MORE >>
Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan—It’s all so familiar. The chafing of seven pounds of steel and wood of a Kalashnikov against Khoda Qul’s bony right hip. The blanched desert that unfurls through the gunsight. And the enemy: Taliban forces advancing across a country so parched its desiccated alluvium has sun-baked into pottery. READ MORE >>
Kampirak, Afghanistan—Hot wind swishes through the colorful flags that the women of Kampirak raised to mark the spots where anti-Taliban raiders murdered their men ten years ago. Dust eddies in the canals that irrigated the dead men’s orchards and wheat fields before running dry this spring. In the middle of the village, the oldest women of Kampirak chew their lips parched by the long, thirsty hours of Ramadan and evoke the name of god. READ MORE >>
Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan—The petitioners arrive at dawn and climb the dirt path in silence. Men with arms missing. Veiled women with artificial limbs. Children with faces drawn and prematurely old solemnly leading blind relatives by the hand. Their grim procession staggers toward the provincial office of the Ministry of the Disabled and Martyrs to solicit an annual disability stipend of $120. READ MORE >>
Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan—Behold the latest toll of war from Forty Meters Street. READ MORE >>
Andkhoi, Afghanistan—The changing of the guard in Faryab province takes place in sinister mimicry of the desert’s perpetual diurnal rhythm. In the brief and hazy dusk, police officers patrolling the rutted roads and villages of thirsty apricot groves pile into green pickup trucks and go home. In their place, on motorcycles, in cars, and on foot, the Taliban take charge, until morning. READ MORE >>