Sean Carberry

Sean Carberry is NPR's international correspondent based in Kabul. His work can be heard on all of NPR's award-winning programs, including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.

Prior to moving into his current role, he was responsible for producing for NPR's foreign correspondents in the Middle East and "fill-in" reporting. Carberry travels extensively across the Middle East to cover a range of stories such as the impact of electricity shortages on the economy in Afghanistan and the experiences of Syrian refugees in Turkish camps.

Carberry has reported from more than two-dozen countries including Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, and Iceland. In 2010, Carberry won the Gabriel Award Certificate of Merit for America Abroad's "The First Freedom," and in 2011 was awarded the Sigma Delta Chi Award as lead producer and correspondent for America Abroad's series, "The Arab World's Demographic Dilemma."

Since joining NPR, Carberry worked with Lourdes Garcia-Navarro in Tripoli for NPR's coverage of the fall of the Libyan capital. He also covered the post-US withdrawal political crisis in Baghdad in December 2011, and recently completed a two month fill-in reporting assignment in Kabul that led to his current role.

Before coming to NPR in 2011, Carberry worked at America Abroad Media where he served as technical director and senior producer in addition to traveling internationally to report and produce radio and multimedia content for America Abroad's monthly radio news documentaries and website. He also worked at NPR Member Station WBUR in Boston as a field and political producer, associate producer/technical director, and reporter, contributing to NPR, newscasts, and WBUR's Here and Now.

In addition to his journalistic accolades, Carberry is a well-rounded individual who has also been an assistant professor of music production and engineering at Berklee College of Music in Boston, received a Gold Record as Recording Engineer for Susan Tedeschi's Grammy-Nominated album "Just Won't Burn," engineered music for the television program "Sex in the City," is a certified SCUBA diver, and is a graduate of the Skip Barber School of Auto Racing.

Carberry earned a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies from Lehigh University and a Masters of Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School, with a focus in Politics, National Security, and International Affairs.

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5:40pm

Sat November 23, 2013
Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, Tribal Elders Get A Say In Security Pact With U.S.

Originally published on Sat November 23, 2013 7:15 pm

In Afghanistan, a grand assembly of some 2,500 tribal elders, politicians and civil society elites are meeting to decide whether to approve a security agreement with the United States. Approval by the grand assembly, called a loya jirga, would be in addition to the OK of the Afghan government. But as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has noted, the agreement can't go forward without the backing of the Afghan people. The security agreement would allow as many as 9,000 U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan after the current NATO mission ends next year.

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1:57pm

Tue November 19, 2013
Parallels

How Will Afghan Forces Fare As NATO Troops Draw Down?

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 5:54 pm

An Afghan soldier stands guard in the western city of Herat in October. U.S. Maj. Gen. James McConville, who commands coalition forces in eastern Afghanistan, says Afghan forces did hold their ground this year, but "they're not winning by enough that the enemy is willing to stop fighting yet."
Aref Karimi AFP/Getty Images

Shiite Muslims gathered in Kabul last week to celebrate Ashura, one of the holiest days on their religious calendar. Hundreds of shirtless men chanted and flogged themselves with chains tipped with knife-like shards of metal.

In the past, these public Shiite commemorations have become targets of the Taliban and other Islamist extremists. In 2011, a suicide bomber killed 56 Shiites marking Ashura. But this year, security was particularly tight.

Shopkeeper Noor Aga said the celebration was magnificent, and he felt safe.

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5:07am

Thu November 14, 2013
Parallels

Afghan Farmers: Opium Is The Only Way To Make A Living

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 8:33 pm

An Afghan farmer collects raw opium as he works in a poppy field in Nangarhar province on April 29. Poppy cultivation reached a record high this year despite Western efforts to reduce it.
Noorullah Shirzada AFP/Getty Images

Lashkar Gah is the capital of the volatile province that alone grows half of Afghanistan's opium poppy. Cultivation here grew by 34 percent over last year.

On Fridays, hundreds of men gather at the bazaar along the Helmand River, the lifeblood of this arid province. Vendors sell everything from livestock to boxes of artisanal medicine.

There's no sign of poppy here. In fact, the farmers we talk to like 26-year-old Khairullah, who goes by one name, say they are actually too poor to grow it.

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3:19am

Wed November 13, 2013
Parallels

Afghan Air Force Races To Prepare For Solo Mission

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 5:11 am

Afghan trainer Col. Din Mohammad, standing in front of a Soviet-made helicopter, speaks to new group of Afghan pilots and air crews at the Air Force University in Kabul on Jan. 16, 2012. The Afghan air force has only a small number of planes, pilots and spare parts and is attempting to ramp up training before the departure of U.S. and NATO forces.
Musadeq Sadeq AP

A gray C-130 Hercules flies low over the runway at Kabul airport. The four-engine cargo plane then climbs and banks to the left. Moments later, it lands and passes under the spray of two fire trucks before stopping in front of a crowd of officials.

This ceremony last month marked the official transfer of the first two C-130s from the U.S. to the Afghan air force.

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3:03am

Tue October 8, 2013
Afghanistan

As Afghan Presidential Race Begins, Warlords Are Prominent

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 8:26 am

Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayyaf, an influential lawmaker and religious scholar, waves at his supporters on Oct. 3, after registering his candidacy in next year's presidential election.
Rahmat Gul AP

As the war in Afghanistan enters its 13th year, the political and security situation there remains precarious. But the country is hoping to reach a milestone next spring: the first democratic transfer of power in the country's history.

And there's no shortage of candidates vying to succeed President Hamid Karzai — who is barred from running for a third term.

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6:10am

Sun October 6, 2013
Parallels

As Afghan Troops Take The Lead, They Take More Casualties

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 9:46 am

Afghan medics at Forward Operating Base Nolay in the southern province of Helmand treat an Afghan police officer shot by militants.
Sean Carberry NPR

The Taliban have been waging a particularly bloody offensive this year now that Afghan government forces are in charge of security. The result: Afghan army and police are suffering record numbers of casualties — far more than NATO ever did at the height of its troop presence in Afghanistan.

So even as NATO forces are preparing to leave, they are working to bolster the medical capabilities of Afghan forces at hospitals, clinics and training centers across the country.

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11:09am

Mon September 30, 2013
Parallels

A History Of Love Gone Wrong, All In One Croatian Museum

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 9:50 am

At the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia, each item is accompanied by a story from the donor on how a romance fell apart.
Sean Carberry NPR

I confess I'm not much of a museum tourist. On a recent visit to Croatia's capital, Zagreb, I strolled past three museums without feeling any urge to step inside. Then I came across one I just couldn't ignore: the Museum of Broken Relationships.

"It's a collection of objects donated by people who have broken up," says Drazen Grubisic, a co-owner of the museum. "Each item has an accompanying story."

Some are amusing, others sarcastic and a few are just plain heartbreaking.

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3:29am

Mon September 9, 2013
Parallels

How To Build An Afghan Army, In A Million Difficult Steps

Originally published on Mon September 9, 2013 12:57 pm

Afghan soldiers and contractors are taught about the workings of a diesel-powered electrical generator at Forward Operating Base Nolay in Helmand province.
Sean Carberry NPR

It's 8 a.m. on a recent day at Forward Operating Base Nolay, a small Marine outpost in Taliban-infested Sangin District of southern Afghanistan's Helmand province. The Marines are in the process of caffeinating and preparing for the day.

Suddenly, explosions and gunfire ring out. The Marines don't run for their weapons or bunkers for that matter. They don't even flinch.

"We can sit here and we can have a cup of coffee when there's booms going on, we're not concerned about it," says Lt. Col. Jonathan Loney.

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3:45am

Mon August 26, 2013
Parallels

For Pakistan And Afghanistan, Soccer As Reconciliation

Originally published on Mon August 26, 2013 5:03 am

Afghanistan and Pakistan, countries that have a history of tense relations, played their first soccer match in nearly 40 years when they met Aug. 20 in Kabul. Afghanistan (in red) won 3-0.
Omar Sobhani Reuters/Landov

Afghanistan and Pakistan are better known for their verbal fights and occasional border clashes, but for the first time since 1976, they battled on a soccer field in Kabul.

Some 6,000 rabid Afghan fans cheered on their team, clad in red uniforms. There were horns, flags, and face paint. It looked like any soccer game in the world, except for all the riot police, snipers, and Blackhawk helicopters passing overhead periodically.

Ahmad Mirwais, a 27-year-old tailor, was one of those lucky enough to score a ticket.

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3:03am

Mon August 19, 2013
Afghanistan

In Kabul, A Juggling Act That Offers Joy For Afghan Kids

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 6:52 am

Students at the Afghan Mobile Mini Circus for Children participate in the juggling parade on the streets of Kabul before Afghanistan's eighth annual national juggling championship last week.
Sean Carberry NPR

Morning traffic in Kabul can be punishing enough as it is. But on a recent day, there's an extra element clogging up the streets, a scene you don't see on a typical day in the Afghan capital.

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3:58am

Sun August 4, 2013
Afghanistan

Regimental Combat Team 7 Rolls Up Its Flag In Afghanistan

Originally published on Sun August 4, 2013 2:42 pm

Regimental Combat Team 7 cases its flag during their mission's closing ceremony in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Sean Carberry NPR

At the peak of fighting in Afghanistan's Helmand Province, there were 20,000 Marines battling the Taliban. Now there are 8,000 — and more are heading home every month.

Among the latest to pack up was Regimental Combat Team 7.

At their mission's recent closing ceremony, several hundred Marines gathered in the scorching desert heat at Camp Leatherneck in Helmand Province. Their tan, pixelated fatigues blended in amidst the vast expanse of sand-colored tents and buildings of the largest Marine base in Afghanistan.

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7:09am

Tue July 23, 2013
Parallels

An Afghan Minister Fires Back At Impeachment Attempt

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 11:13 am

Ghulam Mujtaba Patang speaks at a news conference Monday after being dismissed from his post as Afghanistan's interior minister. He will stay in the post until the country's Supreme Court rules on the legality of his dismissal.
Mohammad Ismail Reuters /Landov

If you think it's tough being a Cabinet secretary in the U.S., having to deal with the demands of a fiercely partisan Congress and testify a few times a year, try being the Afghan interior minister.

"I have been summoned by the lower house 93 times, and 79 times by the upper house," says Ghulam Mujtaba Patang, who for the past 10 months has been in charge of the ministry that oversees the Afghan National Police.

"Based on this calculation, I have had one day in a week to work for the people," he says.

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3:02am

Tue July 23, 2013
Parallels

Despite Many Threats, Afghan TV Satire Mocks The Powerful

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 9:10 pm

Zang-e-Khatar, or Danger Bell, makes fun of government officials and other powerful figures in Afghanistan. Cast members are shown performing a skit during a taping of the show.
Sultan Faizy NPR

Saturday Night Live. The Daily Show. Zang-e-Khatar.

OK, maybe you haven't heard of that last one. But the comedy-sketch television show is well known in Afghanistan, where Zang-e-Khatar, or Danger Bell, is one of the most watched programs.

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3:09am

Sun July 14, 2013
Parallels

Despite Repeated Tries, Afghan Peace Efforts Still Sputter

Originally published on Sat July 20, 2013 4:48 pm

Afghan soldiers take positions following a clash with Taliban fighters on the outskirts of the eastern city of Jalalabad on July 7. The U.S. is trying to organize peace talks, but the latest effort has been put on hold while the fighting continues.
Noorullah Shirzada Getty Images

The U.S. has been pushing the Taliban and the Afghan government to find a political solution for the past year and a half. But every time it seems the parties are close to starting peace talks, a new demand or controversy arises and nothing happens.

In the latest attempt, the Taliban finally opened a political office in Qatar, a move that was supposed to set the stage for negotiations. But when the Taliban envoys gave that office the trappings of an embassy, a furious Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, called off the talks, and they have yet to be re-scheduled.

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2:57pm

Mon July 1, 2013
Parallels

With A New Emir, Will Qatar Keep Its Outsized Role?

Qatar's former emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, is shown last week in the capital, Doha, shortly before he stepped down on June 25 in favor of his 33-year-old son. Such voluntary abdications are exceedingly rare in the Gulf.
Bertrand Langlois AFP/Getty Images

Qatar's capital, Doha, is a post-modern city rising like a mirage out of the hot sands of the Arabian Desert. The ever-growing skyscrapers are stunning, and in some cases, head-scratching works of architecture and engineering. Standing in the city, you almost expect to see the Jetsons fly by.

Qatar is also doing something unusual when it comes to leadership. The 61-year-old emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, stepped down last week and handed power to his 33-year-old son, Sheik Tamim.

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4:57am

Sun June 30, 2013
Parallels

Kabul Postcard: Newly Paved Sidewalks, A Lion On The Roof

Originally published on Mon July 1, 2013 12:42 pm

Afghan official inspects wreckage at the site of a suicide attack near Kabul military airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on June 10. After a month outside the country, NPR's Sean Carberry returned to find some things that had changed, but many, like insurgent violence, that remain the same.
Ahmad Jamshid AP

I've just returned to Kabul after a month out of the country. In a place where it sometimes feels like nothing changes, a lot has changed.

First, a few oddities. An Afghan businessman on my street apparently bought a lion cub and has been keeping it on his roof. I'm not sure if that has anything to do with the fact that I have yet to see any of the ubiquitous, dust-caked street dogs in the neighborhood since I returned, but I don't miss them.

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5:41am

Sun May 19, 2013
Afghanistan

Afghans With Disabilities Fight For The Right To Rights

Originally published on Sun May 19, 2013 6:44 pm

A technician shapes a cast mold for a prosthetic limb at the Red Cross orthopedic clinic in Kabul. The clinic produces about 2,000 prosthetic limbs each year.
Sean Carberry NPR

Climbing the rickety metal staircase is precarious enough if you aren't on crutches, but it's simply dangerous if you are. At the top is the office of Janbazan-e-Mayhan, one of many social councils for disabled Afghans. Men missing arms, legs or hands sit around the small room.

Afghanistan isn't an easy place for anyone to make a living. But for those with disabilities, it's a downright hostile environment. Tens of thousands have been maimed and disabled during decades of conflict. Jobs are scarce, and there's almost nothing that's handicapped-accessible.

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5:13am

Sat May 18, 2013
Parallels

Afghan Mineral Treasures Stay Buried, Hostages To Uncertainty

Originally published on Sat May 18, 2013 7:23 am

An Afghan worker helps excavate part of the mountaintop copper works above the ancient city at Mes Aynak in February. Afghanistan is believed to be sitting on massive mineral and metal deposits. But many obstacles have prevented large-scale mining from getting underway.
Matthew C. Rains MCT/Landov

For years, reports have suggested that Afghanistan is sitting on massive deposits of copper, gold, iron and rare earth minerals valued up to $3 trillion. This provides hope for a future economy that would not have to rely so heavily on foreign donations.

But with an uncertain political, regulatory and security environment, international investors are hesitant. And it could be many years before Afghanistan begins extracting its mineral wealth.

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3:02am

Thu May 16, 2013
Parallels

U.S. Hands Over Nation-Building Projects To Afghans

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 4:24 am

Afghan and U.S. officials attend the closing ceremony for the Paktia provincial reconstruction team on April 9 in eastern Afghanistan. NATO created more than 20 teams to help the Afghans rebuild. But now the U.S. teams are winding down their activities.
Sean Carberry NPR

On a sunny spring day in eastern Afghanistan's Paktia province, Afghan officials and U.S. troops and civilians gather inside the ancient mud fort in the center of Forward Operating Base Gardez. They're attending a ceremony marking the formal end of the work of the provincial reconstruction team, or PRT.

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4:20pm

Wed May 15, 2013
Parallels

Heavy Metal In Kabul? It's The Music, Not The Munitions

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 9:35 am

Solomon "Sully" Omar performs with the Afghan metal band District Unknown at the third annual Sound Central Festival in Kabul earlier this month.
Courtesy of Ellie Kealey

When 23-year-old Solomon "Sully" Omar felt the music scene in his native Denver wasn't giving him what he was looking for, he made a radical move. He headed for Kabul, capital of the war-torn country his parents had fled decades ago.

"I came here to continue my education and at the same time see what's in the music scene here and bring some of the skills and abilities that I have to the music scene," says Omar.

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2:55am

Wed May 8, 2013
Afghanistan

Afghans Confront Senstive Issue Of Ethnicity

Originally published on Thu May 9, 2013 11:43 am

Saifulzul Husseini (right) works in Dashti Barchi, a Hazara neighborhood of Kabul. He believes that ethnicity should be listed on the new identity card.
Sean Carberry NPR

In Afghanistan, where most people are illiterate and live in areas without paved roads or regular electricity, a state-of-the-art smart-chip ID card may seem extravagant. But the government believes it can help with everything from census data to voter registration to health care.

The format of the proposed card, however, is fueling debate over ethnicity and identity at a time when anxiety is already high over the drawdown of NATO troops.

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5:11am

Tue May 7, 2013
Afghanistan

Afghan-Pakistani Forces Exchange Fire Along Shared Border

Originally published on Tue May 7, 2013 11:04 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Some other news. For the second time in less than a week, Afghan and Pakistani forces have exchanged fire along their shared border. The countries clashed again yesterday over a gate that Pakistani forces have been building on what Afghans say is their side of the line. The roots of this problem run much deeper.

But as NPR's Sean Carberry reports,.

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3:16pm

Wed May 1, 2013
Afghanistan

Secret Cash To Afghan Leader: Corruption Or Just Foreign Aid?

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 7:48 pm

Afghan President Hamid Karzai acknowledged a report this week that the CIA has regularly been sending him money. Afghans seem to have mixed feelings. The president is shown here speaking at an event in Kabul on March 10.
S. SABAWOON EPA/Landov

After a report in The New York Times this week, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has acknowledged that the CIA has been secretly delivering bags of money to his office since the beginning of the war more than a decade ago.

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9:24am

Sun April 28, 2013
The Two-Way

For Afghan Policewomen, Danger Often Comes From Colleagues

Afghan policewomen take part in a training exercise in the western province of Herat in 2011. Policewomen face frequent sexual harassment and assaults, often carried out by policemen, human rights groups say.
Sardar Xinhua/Landov

It seems almost trivial at first: the latest Human Rights Watch report on Afghanistan says female police officers need their own toilets. Sure, who's going to argue with that. But why is it a big deal?

Here's how it unfolds.

Female police officers are experiencing high levels of harassment, sexual assault and rape — often at the hands of their male colleagues. Where is most of this activity taking place? In police station bathrooms and changing rooms.

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8:47am

Sat April 27, 2013
The Two-Way

Taliban Says It Will Begin Spring Offensive Sunday

Originally published on Sun April 28, 2013 3:06 am

The Taliban will launch their annual spring offensive on Sun., April 28, the group said Saturday.

In a press release, the Taliban said that the offensive will target "America, NATO and their backers for the gratification of Allah Almighty, independence of Afghanistan and establishing in it an Islamic government while we humbly raise our hands towards Allah Almighty for its success and hope for a favorable and triumphant end."

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5:01am

Mon April 8, 2013
NPR Story

Foreign Service Officer Died Doing What She Loved

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 10:09 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Over the weekend in Afghanistan, a suicide bomber took the life of five Americans. They were on a mission to deliver books to an Afghan school. They were military personnel, a Defense Department civilian, and the first State Department Foreign Service officer to be killed in Afghanistan.

She was 25-year-old Anne Smedinghoff. NPR's Sean Carberry, in Kabul, sent this remembrance.

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12:33pm

Sun April 7, 2013
The Two-Way

Young Staffer's Death Binds U.S. Embassy, Journalists

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 10:50 am

An Afghan police officer stands guard near the site where a suicide bomb attack took the life of five Americans, including 25-year-old Foreign Service officer Anne Smedinghoff, in Afghanistan on Saturday.
Arghand Xinhua /Landov
  • From 'Morning Edition': Remembering Anne Smedinghoff

Death comes with the territory when you work in conflict zones. On sometimes a daily basis, those of us who have worked in Iraq and Afghanistan in particular have filed stories with headlines like, "Four troops killed during insurgent attack," or "IED kills 10 civilians and wounds six."

It's a blur of numbers and uniforms. When we get word of an incident, we scramble to determine what happened, the nationality of the victims and any other pertinent details. But it's all very anonymous and impersonal, most of the time. It's reporting. It's work.

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3:27am

Tue April 2, 2013
Afghanistan

Afghanistan, Pakistan Struggle To Find Common Ground

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 8:05 am

Afghanistan presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, earlier this year.
Ahmad Nazar AP

Much has changed since last November, when Afghans were praising Pakistan for saying it would no longer support the Taliban and would instead work for peace.

"We believe that relations between the two countries are deteriorating," says Aimal Faizi, spokesman for President Hamid Karzai.

Faizi says the downward slide started last month. The two countries had agreed to convene a conference of religious scholars, or ulema, to denounce suicide bombing. But the conference fell apart at the last minute, with each country blaming the other for undermining the effort.

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3:25am

Mon March 18, 2013
Afghanistan

Afghanistan's Forests A Casualty Of Timber Smuggling

Originally published on Mon March 18, 2013 2:34 pm

An Afghan laborer works in a firewood yard at a market in Herat on Dec. 11, 2011.
Aref Karimi AFP/Getty Images

Despite Afghanistan's fierce winter, it's rare to find a house with insulation or a modern heating system. So Afghans rely on bukharis, stoves that look like an oil drum with a big rusty pipe growing out of the top that bends off into a hole in the wall.

That fact keeps the hundreds of wood vendors around Kabul quite happy. This winter, NPR staff fed several tons of firewood into their bukhari — and that's just one house in a city of about 5 million people.

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11:36am

Mon March 11, 2013
Afghanistan

With Withdrawal Looming, U.S. Troops Shift Their Aim

Originally published on Mon March 11, 2013 5:36 pm

An Afghan policeman stands guard near the scene of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 27
Musadeq Sadeq AP

The NATO campaign is now in a new phase. After years of fighting the Taliban and bolstering anemic local governance, NATO troops are handing those responsibilities over to the Afghans. NPR's Sean Carberry recently embedded with U.S. troops in the southern province of Kandahar as they worked on this new mission.

The fertile Arghandab Valley in Kandahar province is considered one of Afghanistan's breadbaskets. For years it was also a valley of death for NATO troops.

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