Reporters on the Job

UNDER HOTEL ARREST: The Monitor's Scott Baldauf and photographer Robert Harbison spent yesterday with the rest of the foreign press corps in Kabul, Afghanistan, effectively unable to leave the Intercontinental Hotel. "Our government-mandated translators were put in jail for 12 hours to punish them for letting the photographers, particularly the TV cameramen, take pictures outside the courthouse," says Scott. He reasons that it wasn't the translators' fault, because the Taliban authorities wouldn't let the photographers into the courtroom. He and his translator went inside to witness the proceedings. The photographers were left outside, alone, and made the best of the situation by taking shots of those on trial as they arrived and left (this page).

To communicate their displeasure, the Taliban kept foreign journalists at their hotel yesterday. Mortar rounds were lobbed to the left and right of the hotel, which was also interpreted by some journalists as a kind of warning against any more "misbehavior."

DUCK AND COVER: For today's story on the changing nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (page 1), the Monitor's Cameron Barr interviewed some young Palestinian men near a set of barricades in Hebron, West Bank, that has been the scene of frequent clashes between stone-throwers and soldiers. They confirmed that the clashes have abated of late. For one thing, they said, there was nothing to throw a stone at, since the barricade was devoid of Israeli soldiers. But, as Cameron spoke with them, he heard gunfire in the distance. Two Israeli soldiers suddenly approached the barricade about 25 yards away. "One soldier lifted his M-16 to his shoulder and fired up the middle of the street," says Cameron, who quickly ducked behind a parked car. He didn't see any stones thrown at the soldiers. "They just started firing rubber bullets and stun grenades." The dozen or so young men and boys in the vicinity - the apparent targets of the Israelis - disappeared behind cars and buildings.


END OF SYRIA's 'SPRING'? Syria's arrest last week of an independent member of parliament is part of a plan to silence opponents of one-party rule, an opposition spokesman told Agence France Presse. Raid Seif was arrested for his "campaign of denigration" that "interferes with the national dialogue," said Ath-Thawra, the official government newspaper. The Monitor reported on Feb. 13 that Mr. Seif was holding meetings in his home, and had become one of the most prominent proponents of pro-democracy reforms.

- David Clark Scott

World editor

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