Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

Flash, bang, but Afghan night raid comes up empty



Reuters correspondent Matt Robinson provides a rare glimpse of night raids by U.S. forces in Afghanistan that are again on the rise in an effort to break the back of the insurgency. Here’s his story from a village in Paktika province near the eastern border with Pakistan. (Picture by Matt Robinson)

First the men were separated from the women and children and made to crouch outside on the frozen ground, wrapped in blankets. Then the soldiers went room-to-room, torches shining from raised rifles.

It was night in Ateh Khaneh, a cluster of adobe houses ringed with high mud walls near Afghanistan’s eastern border with Pakistan, and the U.S. army’s 101st Airborne Division had received a tip-off.

A man named Mullah Ibrahim, known to U.S. forces as a prominent Taliban commander in the Yahya Khel district of Paktika province, had gathered a small group of fighters for an imminent attack on a nearby U.S. military base.