Standing guard in Kabul, Afghanistan, December 2003
Ahmad Masood / Reuters


In 1994, bitter fighting between competing warlords raged throughout Kabul, Afghanistan's capital city. It was a time marked by endless attacks, many of them on civilians. I saw one young boy raise his hand to catch a ball, only to have it sliced off at the wrist by a rocket. A 13-year-old girl, running home to retrieve blankets and clothes left behind by her fleeing family, stepped on a land mine, which exploded and blew off the bottom of her leg. All told, 50,000 Afghans—most of them civilians—died in the four-year fight for Kabul, and even more

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