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  • The bomb ripped and crushed the air. It did the same to the bodies around it. Those who were not killed began a panicked rush away from a scene from the Inferno. Dozens jumped a wall and waded across the refuse-laden Kabul River. Hundreds bashed against my camera and me as I fought to get closer to the scene.

    But, terrified, I didn’t run forward at first. Usually soldiers, police, photographers and journalists are the only ones running toward the sound of shooting when an attack starts in Kabul. After considering fleeing with the crowd across the river, I made a decision to run forward – partly to see if my colleague and friend Joel van Houdt was alive. I hadn’t seen him for some minutes.

    As I fought through the crowd running from the scene, many were still shouting “Imam Hussein!” – a Shia saint said whose martyrdom the worshippers had been honoring during the Ashura holy day. Finally I fought my way to the epicenter of the blast.

    The ground was slippery with blood and entrails. The smell of the blast, of burnt clothing and singed hair, filled the air. The bodies of the wounded shuddered and jerked on the ground. I felt like I was in the center of Hell with walls of bodies and blood surrounding me. The bomb had cut like a scythe, laying out dozens of people – worshippers, passersby, beggars, street children, Shia and Sunni alike – in a perfect semicircle of carnage. Behind the bomber, a wall contained the explosion. Here, dozens of bodies were laid out in a jumbled line – most of them women and children.

    Screaming filled the air. Men were weeping and raising their hands to god. Some took pictures with their mobile phones. One man, his mouth torn open, called his family to tell them he was alive. A baby, seemingly unhurt, lay motionless across his mother’s chest, head downward on the pavement. The uninjured carried and dragged the wounded and dead into ambulances, taxis and police trucks.

    As Afghan and American government officials coolly discuss the upcoming withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan – to save “blood and treasure” – the Afghan people continue to rip themselves apart with the help of foreign militaries. Ten years of occupation has brought little improvement in security, education, healthcare, infrastructure or governance for most Afghans. Safe havens for terrorists still exist in Pakistan. Meanwhile, only 2% of all U.S. news stories last year focused on the war.

    As the drawdown of troops continues, the U.S. and NATO have left nothing strong enough in place to halt a likely civil war. Scenes like the one above will continue and only get worse. The war isn't over. Help us tell the story. Razistan – or Land of Secrets – is a collective of foreign and local independent photojournalists based in Afghanistan who are seeking to tell the untold stories of the war and give the conflict the attention it demands.

    Learn more about Razistan by watching the video at

    Some of Razistan's photo work is available at

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