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April 1, 2009

Recent scenes from Afghanistan

Since he took office in January, President Barack Obama has ordered an additional 21,000 U.S. troops to be deployed to Afghanistan, which will bring the full U.S. deployment there to a total of 60,000 troops, joining 39,000 coalition troops from 43 countries. The U.S. administration plans to impose benchmarks for progress on both Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, who struggle with problems tied to tribal rivalries, illegal drug production and distribution, religious factions, general instability and poverty. Collected here are photographs from the past few months of the situation in Afghanistan and the lives that continue to be affected by it. (43 photos total)

An Afghan village seen from above, amidst fields of opium poppy and wheat in Farah Province, Afghanistan on March 17, 2009. U.S. Marines, who expanded into the area last November, are soon to be joined by thousands more American troops as part of an additional 17,000 U.S. forces being sent to the war. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Canadian soldier Pte Chris Kezar from November Company 7th platoon of the NATO-led coalition rests after heavy fighting against insurgents in the Taliban stronghold of Zhari district in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan, March 20, 2009. (REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini) #

U.S. Army soldiers with the 1-6 Field Artillery division patrol an area where there has been reported Taliban presence February 18, 2009 in Gandalabog, Afghanistan. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) #

A boy from a small shepherd community watches his herd of goats February 27, 2009 in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) #

U.S. Marine Sgt. Nicholas Bender launches a Raven surveillance drone from Marine base perimeter on March 21, 2009 near the remote village of Baqwa, Afghanistan. Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment use the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to get real time intelligence on Taliban movements. The Marines are operating in Farah Province of southwest Afghanistan and are seeing a spike in Taliban attacks against American forces with the onset of the spring "fighting season." (John Moore/Getty Images) #

A burqa-clad Afghan woman walks in an old bazaar in Kabul March 4, 2009. (REUTERS/Ahmad Masood) #

A U.S. Air Force C-17 flying overhead drops parachutes of military supplies - which blew off course, landing on an opium poppy field on March 22, 2009 next to a U.S. Marine base in remote Qalanderabad in southwest Afghanistan. (John Moore/Getty Images) #

Opium farmer Haji Abdul Khan shows off damaged poppies to U.S. Marines and their military interpreter on March 22, 2009 near remote Qalanderabad in southwest Afghanistan. The opium poppy field was damaged when a U.S. Air Force airdrop of supplies blew off target, landing on some of Khan's crops and crushing them. The Marines assured Khan they would pay him for his damaged poppy crop in compensation for the accident. The Taliban often extorts a percentage of the profits from the farmers' harvest to fund attacks on American forces, according to the military. U.S. Marines, however, have no mandate to destroy poppy crops and, in fact, count on farmers to supply intelligence on Taliban activities. (John Moore/Getty Images) #

An Afghan miner works inside the Karkar coal mine in Pul-i-Kumri, about 170km north of Kabul, March 7, 2009. Karkar mine, which hires 280 workers, produces about 100 tons of coal a day. The salary for a miner ranges from $70 to $110 per month. (REUTERS/Ahmad Masood) #

A man is questioned by the U.S. Army in a remote valley while searching for Taliban militants who fired rockets at an Army base earlier in the evening February 18, 2009 in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) #

The body of a suspected Taliban insurgent lies on the back of a police truck after he was killed in a battle outside Ghazni March 26, 2009. Four Taliban insurgents were killed, and seven policemen and two civilians were wounded during a battle just outside Ghazni city, some 200km (125 miles) southwest of Kabul, a spokesman for the provincial governor said. (REUTERS/Shir Ahmad) #

A U.S. counter-intelligence Marine and his translator meet with local Afghan villagers on March 23, 2009 in Kirta, in remote southwest Afghanistan. (John Moore/Getty Images) #

Sgt. Darin Hendricks with the U.S. Army 1-6 Field Artillery division looks into a small cave while searching for a Taliban rocket launching site in the vicinity of the remote village of Main February 19, 2009 in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) #

Mohammed Amin, an Afghan boy, waits to sell balloons in a field in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Feb. 27, 2009. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool) #

An Afghan woman builds a prosthetic limb at Kabul Orthopedic Organization (KOO) in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Feb. 23, 2009. A doctor there said KOO's vision as a health care organization is to provide the best health services for disabled - both male and female population - in the region by the establishing a new technology which is based on assessment of the patients. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool) #

A U.S. Marine and an Afghan national policeman pause while on a joint patrol March 26, 2009 near Bakwa in southwestern Afghanistan. Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment patrol daily in the area, often with Afghan police. Local opium poppy and wheat farmers say the presence of the Marines has improved security in the region, formerly controlled by the Taliban, although Taliban insurgents continue to creep into the area at night to plant IEDs on the road. (John Moore/Getty Images) #

A U.S. Marine M-4 rifle rests on sandbags at an observation post on March 30, 2009 in Now Zad in Helmand province of southern Afghanistan. Marines from Lima Company of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment there overlook the Taliban frontline. Unlike in many other areas of Afghanistan, where American forces are engaged primarily in counterinsurgency warfare, in Now Zad, both Taliban and American forces hold territory and can see each other across their linear frontline positions. (John Moore/Getty Images) #

Former Taliban militants hold their heavy and light weapons during a ceremony to hand over them to the Afghan government in the city of Herat province west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, March 10, 2009. Around 40 Taliban militants from Herat province handed their weapons to the Afghan government as part of a peace-reconciliation program. (AP Photo/Fraidoon Pooyaa) #

Men work at Taqcha Khana salt mine in Namak Aab district of Takhar province northeast of Kabul March 10, 2009. The mine, from which salt is excavated with basic tools and transported by donkeys, produces more than 23,000 tons of salt per year. (REUTERS/Ahmad Masood) #

A soldier from the 2nd Gurkha Regiment of the British army cleans his weapon on Patrol Base Woqab in Musa Qala, Helmand province March 27, 2009. (REUTERS/Omar Sobhani) #

A U.S. Marine watches as lightning flashes on the horizon during a search operation for Taliban on March 25, 2009 near the village of Bakwa in remote southwestern Afghanistan. Marines from India Company of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment were searching for insurgents after receiving information that a group of armed men were approaching their base through a hidden ravine. No one was found however. (John Moore/Getty Images) #

The casket of U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Geary is carried from a military airplane during a ceremony at Griffiss International Airport, Thursday, March 26, 2009 in Rome, New York as family members, (l-r), cousin Dawn Roux, father Michael Geary, and mother Aggie Geary embrace. The 22-year-old was killed a week earlier when a bomb struck his Humvee in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Observer-Dispatch, Nicole L. Cvetnic) #

Veteran soldiers salute through the window of a hearse as the funeral cortege carrying the coffins of British soldiers Corporal Dean John, Corporal Graeme Stiff and Lance Corporal Chris Harkett passes through Wootton Bassett, England, following their return to British soil from Aghanistan Saturday, March 21, 2009. Hundreds of people lined the street as the hearses passed carrying the Union Flag-draped coffins of Royal Engineers Corporal Dean John and Corporal Graeme Stiff, both attached to the 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards, and Lance Corporal Chris Harkett, of 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh, who were killed in Afghanistan. (AP Photo / Dominic Lipinski) #

Canadian soldiers carry the coffins of their compatriots at the airfield of the Canadian Joint Task Force Afghanistan in Kandahar March 21, 2009. Roadside bombs killed four Canadian soldiers as well as a local interpreter in Afghanistan on Friday, Canadian Brigadier-General Jonathan Vance said. (REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini) #

Family and friends of Trooper Jack Bouthillier, of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, watch his remains being carried to a waiting hearse during a repatriation ceremony at the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, Ontario, Canada on Monday, March 23, 2009 for four soldiers killed March 20, 2009 in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Peter Redman) #

Army Lt. Gen. David Huntoon, Jr., kneels as he presents an American flag to Nicole Bunting, the widow of Army Capt. Brian M. Bunting, 29, of Potomac, Md., Monday, March 16, 2009, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. Bunting, a member of the Individual Ready Reserve, assigned to the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Syracuse, N.Y., died Feb. 24 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari) #

A U.S. Marine CH-53 transport helicopter flies over the rugged terrain of Farah province March 17, 2009 in southwestern Afghanistan. The Marines, who expanded into the area last November, are soon to be joined by thousands more American troops as part of an additional 17,000 U.S. forces being sent to the war. (John Moore/Getty Images) #

Canadian soldiers from the NATO-led coalition check a dry river in the Taliban stronghold of Arghandab district in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan, March 12, 2009. (REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini) #

Canadian door gunners from the NATO-led coalition force take position on a CH-146 Griffon helicopter as they fly over a neighbourhood in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan, March 27, 2009. Helicopters are a prime asset to move NATO-led coalition troops and supplies in the war-plagued country because convoys by road are often blown up by improvised explosive devices (IEDs). (REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini) #

A Canadian soldier door gunner from NATO-led coalition opens fire with a machine gun from a CH-146 Griffon helicopter as it flies over neighbourhood in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan, March 27, 2009. (REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini) #

Nasim, a heroin addict for the last 5 years stands inside the abandoned Russian Cultural center used as the heroin gathering point in the capital city February 08, 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Heroin addicts are on the increase in Kabul as the numbers of unemployed increase and the drug continues to be readily available and extremely cheap at only 50 afghany per hit or $1 USD. Afghanistan accounts for more than 90 per cent of the world's heroin supply. Its annual opium harvest is worth up to $3 billion, or almost half the country's official gross domestic product. Profits from heroin fund the Taliban, along with corrupt Afghan officials who profit from it. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)#

An Afghan security officer stands guard as flames rise during a drug burning event on the outskirts of the city in Herat province, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Over 2,000 kilograms of narcotics, composed of heroin, opium and hashish, were burnt along with some bottles of alcoholic drinks. (AP Photo/Fraidoon Pooyaa) #

Afghan horsemen play Afghanistan's national sport Buzkashi in the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, March 20, 2009. Buzkashi is the national sport of Afghanistan, which literally translated means "goat grabbing." In Buzkashi, a headless carcass is placed in the center of a circle and surrounded by the players of two opposing teams. The object of the game is to get control of the carcass and bring it to the scoring area. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool) #

An Afghan man waits with his sick child to be treated by French doctors of the 27th BCA (Bataillon de Chasseurs Alpins) on February 19, 2009 at the Morales-Frazier Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Nijrab, Kapisa province. (JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images) #

A British soldier keeps watch while on foot patrol in a poppy field in Musa Qala, Helmand province, Afghanistan on March 28, 2009. (REUTERS/Omar Sobhani) #

U.S. Marines keep watch as fellow Marines search for Taliban arms caches on March 31, 2009 in the abandoned town of Now Zad in Helmand province Afghanistan. Marines from Lima Company of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment have been fighting Taliban insurgents, whose frontline position is just over a mile away from their base. Military commanders say the civilian population fled during heaving fighting between British troops and Taliban fighters several years ago, leaving a ghost town, now a battleground between the U.S. Marines and Taliban. (John Moore/Getty Images) #

A set of security lights illuminate the landscape at Bagram Air Base March 2, 2009 in Bagram, Afghanistan. Following U.S. President Barack Obama's executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, Bagram Air Base is slated for a $60 million expansion, nearly doubling the size of the prison at Bagram. Currently the base north of the Afghan capital Kabul holds over 600 prisoners classified as enemy combatants. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) #

An Afghan National Policeman keeps watch as the burnt body of a suicide attacker is seen amid the wreckage of a vehicle near the U.S. base in Bagram, north of Kabul, Afghanistan on March 4, 2009. A blast from the explosives in the vehicle was followed seconds later by a suicide bomber on foot who, after running from the vehicle had detonated himself outside the main gate of Bagram air base. Several contractors were injured by the blasts. (REUTERS/Ahmad Masood) #

A soldier from Recce Platoon 3rd battalion of the Royal Canadian regiment battle group from the NATO-led coalition shakes the hand of an elderly Afghan man in the Taliban stronghold of Arghandab district in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan, March 30, 2009. (REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini) #

Afghan girls attend school on February 16, 2009 in the village of Sandarwa in eastern Afghanistan. Women's education has been severely compromised in Afghanistan as a resurgent Taliban has practiced a policy of intimidation of female students. Women, who make up a significant proportion of Afghanistan's population, have been killed, burned and threatened for attending school. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) #

Afghan boys toss snowballs at each other as a snowstorm hit Kabul for a second straight day closing the airport on February 13, 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images) #

Afghan children stand outside their tents living at a crowded refugee camp displaced by the flighting in Helmand February 10, 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images) #

U.S. Marines patrol through a sand storm on March 22, 2009 in remote Qalanderabad in southwest Afghanistan. (John Moore/Getty Images) #