April 26th, 2010
11:17 AM ET

U.N. keeps Kandahar staffers home after 'threats'

KABUL, Afghanistan — Unspecified "threats" have forced the United Nations in Afghanistan's second biggest city to order its local staff to stay home until further notice.

The order involves more than 200 Afghan employees in Kandahar. Several foreign staffers have been moved to the capital, Kabul.

The action follows what a U.N. source said were "threats against the U.N. operation in Kandahar."

In recent months, violence in the city has escalated, with numerous bombings and assassinations of officials. The uptick comes as U.S. and NATO forces continue operations against the Taliban in Kandahar and surrounding districts. FULL POST

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Filed under: Kandahar • Taliban
April 26th, 2010
11:08 AM ET

Tourism potential and the secret police

KABUL, Afghanistan — When I was in Afghanistan early in 2002, I covered a story on what we all thought was the very essence of optimism — the appointment of a Tourism Minister.

Needless to say, his poisoned chalice of a job didn’t get much traction at the time.

Occasionally since, the idea of a vibrant tourism industry here has re-surfaced — there is still a Tourism Minister — and some “adventure tourists” have indeed tiptoed through the landmines and firefights to discover the undeniable beauty of this country.

There is no debate that Afghanistan has much to tempt travelers — this is a country rich in tourism potential.  

Towering cliffs and deep caverns, stunning lakes (Band-e-Amir has to be seen to be believed), and rugged vistas abound, alongside a culture rich in history.  For those turned off by resort vacationing, or ABC  (“Another Bloody Cathedral) tours, this is a peach of an alternative.

But while the still-optimistic call upon the daring to visit, perhaps the secret police need a lesson or two in how they might welcome such cash and camera-wielding visitors, especially those who might dare snap a photo for later reminiscing. FULL POST

April 26th, 2010
07:33 AM ET

Taliban suspected of sickening female students

Afghan authorities will investigate the sudden illness of students and staff at three schools in the past week in northern Afghanistan, the Afghan Human Independent Rights Commission said on Sunday. Local doctors suggested the Taliban may be the perpetrators of possible poison attacks.  FULL POST

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Filed under: Taliban