Reporters on the Job

STRANGE BEDFELLOWs: With the help of an Afghan journalist, our reporter Philip Smucker compiled today's story about reinforcements arriving in Kabul (page 1). His colleague came back to Pakistan with some weird tales to tell after six days in Afghanistan. One of the most disconcerting: "In a hotel in Kabul, he met a strange Filipino biochemist who claimed to be there on a mission to produce anthrax to help his Muslim brothers," says Phil. The CIA has suspected that Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda organization of experimenting with germ warfare.

Phil's colleague also visited theTaliban frontline during a US B-52 bombing raid. "The soldiers were crouched in their bunkers, listening to tape recorded readings of the prophet Muhammad's works. But with the bombs falling, it was difficult to hear the sacred texts."

FROM DUST TO DUST: The Monitor's Scott Peterson says that covering the Northern Alliance's military parade yesterday (page 7) epitomized the toll Afghan weather can take on equipment. "The proceedings were virtually sandblasted for hours. It was the most unrelenting, grit-filled wind I've experienced here," says Scott. One photographer switched lenses, and the dust got inside his camera. "During his next shot, the internal mechanism seized."

Many colleagues have lost computers and satellite phones to the elements ,says Scott. Some photographers won't even open their camera bags unless the conditions are right. Another has wrapped all of his equipment in plastic cellophane wrap. "You see all kinds of discarded military equipment on the side of the roads here. I suspect they are casualties of the weather, not the war," says Scott.

- David Clark Scott

World editor

Cultural snapshot

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