Reporters on the job

A TRIP TO BIN LADEN'S HOUSE: For journalists who want to see Osama bin Laden's former residence, south of Jalalabad, the first stop is Hazrat Ali's office (page 1). The new provincial minister of law and order is the source of permission slips - and armed escorts. A pickup truck filled with about 10 armed teenagers was provided for the Monitor's Scott Baldauf and a caravan of colleagues. At the last of three checkpoints, they were told to stop. "It's too dangerous. There are Arabs ahead," they were told. Scott sent an interpreter ahead to get permission from the local Afghan warlord to see the house just over the hill. As they stood waiting, Scott's escorts gestured at his beard. "It's not long enough, infidel," they said, only half joking. The sound of gunfire nearby was enough to send some of the journalists scurrying back to town, and set the escorts chuckling. "It was probably just 'happy fire.' That's when joyous soldiers shoot into the air," says Scott. They were allowed into the bin Laden compound, but left after 15 minutes. "Our escorts were getting nervous and wanted to leave," says Scott.

WHISTLES OF WAR: The Monitor's Scott Peterson was watching a battle for the town of Maidan Shar (this page), when he heard an incoming artillery shell. He and his colleagues dived for cover. "The Northern Alliance soldiers pointed at our dust-covered clothes, and starting laughing at us for being wimps," says Scott. Every few minutes, the soldiers would whistle, imitating the sound of an incoming shell, and watch the journalists duck. But Scott didn't stop ducking. "A little dust is preferable to the alternative."

- David Clark Scott

World editor

Cultural snapshot

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Mail to: One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 via e-mail: world@csmonitor.com

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