“Open this gate! We are from the Afghan National Army!”
It was the midnight call that every villager in Kandahar’s lush agricultural Arghandab Valley, the scene of almost daily bomb attacks and a staging-point for Taliban fighters, dreads. Following a tip-off that the targeted compound contained Taliban bomb makers, night-vision enabled American and Afghan soldiers stalked through the sandy lanes of Kuhak village to a refrain of barking dogs.
But by the time that the compound’s residents had opened the gate ten minutes later, the only person to greet the troops was a one-legged man. Inside, two women and several children lurked fearfully.
Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne’s B Company searched the compound but, lacking a bomb-sniffing dog, their search was inconclusive. Looking sheepish, they apologized to the family, handed out some Afghani notes they dubbed “humanitarian assistance” and walked back to their base.
To read the full story
Iason Athanasiadis is a freelance journalist based in Istanbul.