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Inside Clarissa Ward’s 19-Hour Days Reporting From Kabul (Esquire)

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When CNN’s Clarissa Ward approached a Taliban fighter on the streets of Kabul on Wednesday, a gunshot rang out behind her. If you saw this on Anderson Cooper’s nightly show, you might have missed her flinch. It was brief. Subtle. Her focus remained squarely on the group of Taliban fighters in front of her, including a man who shoved his hand forward to cover her cameraman’s lens and waved a whip made of heavy chain and a padlock. The chaotic scene, he told her, is America’s fault.

As he spoke, Ward noticed his eyes. They look dazed, she told me. Was he high, whether from a narcotic or pure adrenaline? She wondered.

Suddenly, he said he didn’t want to talk to her, and she calmly walked away. Another man walked up to ask Ward for advice on how to get out. As she tried to answer him, more gunshots. These were louder. This time her flinch was more visible. But her voice was level as more men in the crowd came up to show her their documents, explaining they’ve worked as translators and are desperate for help to leave the country. The Taliban fighter with whom she first spoke, the one with the makeshift whip, pushed past them, releasing the safety of his AK-47, threatening to shoot into the crowd.

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