This photographic essay on the bloody conflict in Kashmir is from European Pressphoto Agency (EPA) photographer Altaf Qadri: For decades, neither Pakistan nor India wanted a solution to the Kashmir standoff because the existence of an external enemy enabled both sides, when it suited them, to divert attention from domestic problems. How could you demand food, work, security or freedoms when the nation is under threat? That argument wins every time. While politicians were winning, Kashmiris were paying a terrible price in pain and are torn apart, physically, emotionally, legally and financially. A fertile valley which once was called "Paradise on Earth" becomes a dangerous place to live, its harvest merely razor wire and mines. Indian authorities argue that abuses by their forces are rare and those responsible are punished. But in fact official investigations are infrequent, punishments, if any, are light, and the practices continue. While some abuses, particularly indiscriminate shootings of civilians and reprisal killings, were worse in the early years of the insurgency, summary executions of persons taken into custody have never abated and have even increased during periodic counterinsurgency operations. The Kashmir conflict has claimed more than 60,000 lives, according to Indian officials. Separatists and Pakistan put the death toll at between 80,000 and 100,000.
From Bill Putnam: On the surface, these two photos aren't anything special or probably newsworthy. They are photos of a sectarian massacre though. Insurgents stopped two busses carrying employees home from work at the Bayji Oil Refinery thermal plant the afternoon of March 31. They pulled nine men off -- six Shia and three Sunnis -- and shot them. All of the Shia and two Sunni died; one Sunni man lived and at last word is still in hospital. The circumstances behind this are obviously a little murky. Penetrating that murkiness is proving a little difficult for the 1st of the 187th Infantry. An official from the Iraqi Ministry of Oil arrived at the refinery the afternoon these photos were made. His drive up from Baghdad was faster than his investigation. No sooner than he arrived at the scene did he surmise it was the "work of insurgents" and concluded it. The next day 17 Shia families started an exodus out of Bayji that continues today. Staff Sgt. Jeremy Shields, 1st Lt. Dave Elliott and Alex the Terp, look at the scene April 2, 2006. A bullet casing from an AK-47 the insurgents used to execute the men. This third photo isn't related directly anyway to the massacre photos. Someone parked a car bomb on Highway 1, the country's main north-south highway which also runs through Bayji. The target was an Iraqi army Security Infrastructure Battalion convoy. The bomb wasn't the suicide version (no body parts found in the debris field) and the SIB didn't take any casualties.
From Bill Putnam: I'm back in Bayji, Iraq, and re-embedded with Abu Co., 1st of the 187th Infantry. I was last with the unit in November and December. It's been the best embed I've had in Iraq, period.
From Timothy Floyd: I had the privilege of serving during the initial phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom as an orthopedic surgeon in U. S. Army's 934th Forward Surgical Team. We traveled at the front with various brigades treating, not only wounded coalition forces, but Iraqi civilians, soldiers, Republican and Special Republican Guard, as well as Fedayeen terrorists. Initially, we treated the wounded in our canvas surgical tent. As the war progressed, we made unescorted humanitarian missions to homes, villages, hospitals, and camps, including a "black mission" to treat wounded Iranian MEK soldiers. My photographs tell the story of what I saw and felt, and the uncommon empathy, courage and humanity I witnessed. My experience was much different that what is usually portrayed in the American media, but is consistent with most accounts of men and women who have been to Iraq or who are there now. The Iraqi people are just like anyone else worldwide; most of them only want a peaceful life and the freedom to work, study, play and raise a family. (More of Dr. Floyd's photographs can be found here.)
CPT. Bryan Moore attends a post-op wounded Iraqi woman.
A boy wounded near Baghdad by a grenade his brother set off.
CPT Charlotte Lee attends a wounded Iraqi Republican Guard soldier.
An Iraqi man brings a sick child to an American Army doctor near Balad
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