Reporters on the Job

• ETHNICITY, PLEASE? The Monitor's Peter Ford had to apply for a visa to travel to Yugoslavia for today's story about next week's trial of Slobodan Milosevic (this page). But the application itself gave him pause. "After name, birth date, and gender, they asked for 'ethnicity.' I've never been asked that before on a visa application," he says.

What did Peter write? "I put 'British.' I don't know if that counts as an ethnic group, but I wasn't going to put 'Anglo-Saxon,' " he snorts. "The Balkans have long been divided along ethnic lines, and I guess that even in the new Yugoslavia some things haven't changed yet."

• GONE BOUNTY HUNTING: For today's story about hunting for Al Qaeda members, Philip Smucker joined a Hazara commander in eastern Afghanistan on a scouting trip. "Our convoy of two trucks packed with 10 fighters was a sight to behold," he says.

"We passed two groups of Taliban fighters who gave us pretty nasty looks. The Hazaras and the Pashtuns don't get along very well. We finally arrived at the entrance of what the commander called an Al Qaeda base, which was currently being guarded by Taliban fighters. The commander turned to me and my interpreter, Mashal, and asked us if we'd like to proceed further.

" 'This is the dividing line, and if we go further, they'll start shooting down at us from the mountains,' said Commander Qasmi. Phil told the commander, thanks, but that he'd prefer not to cross the line. "We were only in a pickup truck, not a tank, I told the commander. I think he may have just been giving us some kind of bravery test."

The next day, Phil and Mashal were riding in a taxi near Ghazni with only two armed guards. Three Chechens stopped them, and cocked their Kalashnikovs menacingly, before letting them go.

- David Clark Scott

World editor

Cultural snapshot
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