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Reporters on the Job

Bad Taliban Aim: Correspondent Gretchen Peters was traveling through a remote area of Afghanistan, when a rocket propelled grenade landed near a car behind her in the convoy. "The soldiers in my car called in air support. Fortunately, the Taliban have pretty bad aim. No one was hurt," she says. [Editor's note: The original version mistakenly stated that the RPG hit a car in the convoy.]

Gretchen says that she has visited remote areas of Afghanistan, but never a place as desolate or so removed from civilization. "It was like going back in time. Some of the men were dressed in the old British Raj uniforms and carried Enfield rifles. I've never seen this level of backwardness and desperation."

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As a woman, she had to keep her arms, legs, and head covered. "Once, I was spat on. But mostly people were warm and invited us into their homes.

"The Taliban did take notice that there were three Western women in this convoy. They were heard discussing us on their radios. The described us as 'beautiful and oily women.'

"The oily part refers to the fact that we use moisturizer and don't have skin like shoe leather," says Gretchen. "This is incredibly harsh terrain. Every day was a battle with the physical elements, never mind the cultural divide and the poverty and ignorance."

Just Foreigners: As staff writer Ann Scott Tyson traveled around Iraq in the past week, she has been struck by how often Iraqi officials exclusively blame foreigners - with no mention of Iraqi complicity - for the attacks (page 1). US officials admit that there's a homegrown element, but Iraqi officials seem intent on rallying people against the outsiders. "The consensus among US and Iraqi officials is that the terrorist-style attacks are backfiring. Iraqi citizens are taking up arms to repel the 'foreigners,' " says Ann.

David Clark Scott
World editor


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