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May 3, 2010

Afghanistan, April, 2010

A recent Pentagon report on the situation in Afghanistan over the past 6 months gives the impression that while things aren't necessarily getting any worse, they are far from improving. Afghan citizens, when polled, showed only limited support for their government, and a slight majority placed the blame for instability on Taliban forces. There remains a heavy reliance on international forces to provide security, training and equipment. As of March 31st, there were approximately 133,500 foreign troops on the ground in Afghanistan - 87,000 U.S. forces and 46,500 international forces. This month also saw the departure of a U.S. military presence from Afghanistan's notorious Korengal Valley, a small, isolated, patch of difficult terrain where 42 soldiers lost their lives over the past five years. NATO is calling the move a "realignment", focusing efforts on more-populated areas. Collected here are images of the country and conflict over the past month, part of an ongoing monthly series on Afghanistan. (43 photos total)

An Afghan detainee sits in the entrance to a bunker while under guard by US Marines from India Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, inside their base in Marjah, Helmand province, on April 7, 2010. A single Afghan man was arrested by US Marines near the site where a roadside bomb blew up early in the morning, with a false Pakistan passport, two different Afghan identification cards, some wires wrapped on a few batteries, an old rifle and pamphlets of Taliban activities in Marjah. (MAURICIO LIMA/AFP/Getty Images)

A US Marines V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft kicks up dust as it takes off inside a US Marines base of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines in Marjah. A similar US aircraft crashed in Afghanistan, killing three American troops and a civilian, the military said April 9, 2010. The cause of the incident that downed the US Air Force CV-22 Osprey was under investigation. Photo taken on taken on March 22, 2010. (MAURICIO LIMA/AFP/Getty Images) #

A CAT Scan shows the placement of a 14.5 millimeter high explosive incendiary round which was removed from the scalp of an Afghan National Army solder at the Craig Joint Theater Hospital, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 18, 2010. The injury was sustained during an improvised ordinance device attack. (AP Photo/Staff Sgt. Richard Williams, US Air Force) #

The crew of a U.S. Army helicopter checks an area near Combat Outpost Bari Alai, after firing air-to-ground missiles into a cave, during an extended attack by anti-Afghan forces, at Kunar province, in eastern Afghanistan, April 10, 2010. The event started when an estimated 30 anti-Afghan personnel fired on a dismounted patrol, near Nishigam village, wounding three, and attacked the outpost. (U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gary A. Witte) #

A mortar team from the U.S. Army's Centurion Company, 2-1 Infantry Battalion, 5/2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team fire a 60mm round from a hand-held tube outside Combat Outpost Terminator in Maiwand District, Kandahar Province April 21, 2010. (REUTERS/Tim Wimborne) #

A US Marine from India Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, performs exercises at an outdoor improvised gym, at a base recently set up in Marjah, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, on April 6, 2010. (MAURICIO LIMA/AFP/Getty Images) #

Charlotte Fox, center, widow of Sergeant Paul Fox from 28 Engineer Regiment, views the flag draped coffin of her husband during the funeral service at St Ia's Church, in St Ives, England, Wednesday March 31, 2010, with Paul's father, Maurice Fox, second left. Sgt Paul Fox died on February 26 after being caught in an explosion near a checkpoint in Nad-e-Ali, Helmand province, Afghanistan. (AP Photo / Ben Birchall, PA) #

Trucks carrying supplies to coalition forces burn after hundreds of people blocked a main road and set them on fire to protest what they said were civilian deaths in NATO operations in Logar province, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, April 25, 2010. They gathered hours after NATO said coalition troops killed several insurgents and captured a Taliban sub-commander. (AP Photo/Mohammed Obaid Ormur) #

A U.S. Marine from Lima company 3rd Battalion 6th Marines patrols the area of Karez-e-Sayyidi in Helmand province April 4, 2010. (REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih) #

Stitch-on patches with blood group types, are seen for sale at the Afghanistan market inside the German army Bundeswehr field camp Marmal in Mazar-i-Sharif April 18, 2010. (REUTERS/Maurizio Gambarini) #

A female Afghan police officer gets paramilitary training April 21, 2010 in the east of Afghanistan. Afghan police are receiving paramilitary training, aimed at cutting the force's rising death rate and strengthening security forces so NATO can eventually withdraw its troops from the country. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images) #

3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, Sergeant Paul Williams, 20, of Fostoria, Ohio, poses to show his tattoos, including two bull dogs (or "Devil Dogs"), and lyrics from the Dire Straits song "Brothers in Arms", at the entrance to a bunker at a base in Marjah, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, on March 20, 2010 (photo released April 8th, 2010). (MAURICIO LIMA/AFP/Getty Images) #

Soldiers of the German armed forces Bundeswehr stand guard next to wreaths laid down for fallen comrades killed in Afghanistan, on April 21, 2010 at the Bundeswehr memorial in Berlin. (BARBARA SAX/AFP/Getty Images) #

A ground crew member removes a fuel hose from a U.S. Marine Harrier jet from Marine Attack Squadron 231 during operations in Kandahar April 4, 2010. (REUTERS/Tim Wimborne) #

An Afghan National Army soldier prays during a foot patrol with unseen US Marines from India Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines near a poppy field in a stronghold Taliban area of Marjah, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, on April 5, 2010. (MAURICIO LIMA/AFP/Getty Images) #

Vasiyeh, age 16, shows the scars from burns she inflicted on herself two years ago, April 6, 2010 in Herat, Afghanistan. The issue of female self immolation - attributed to living in poverty, isolation, abusive households, and/or forced marriages - is increasing in prevalence in the region close to the border with Iran, as tensions rise between the traditional subordinate role of women and the increased awareness of women's rights in the wider world. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images) #

A cow pauses in the path of a US Marine from India Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, while patrolling with Afghan National Army soldier after a rocket fired by Taliban insurgents fell just outside their base in Marjah, on April 14, 2010. No one was wounded in the rocket attack. (MAURICIO LIMA/AFP/Getty Images) #

Frances Cottle, widow of Sgt. Maj. Robert Cottle, holds the flag that escorted his remains, during burial services at Arlington National Cemetery April 16, 2010 in Arlington, Virginia. Cottle, a member of the LAPD SWAT team, was killed by a roadside bomb in the Marja region of Afghanistan. (Win McNamee/Getty Images) #

An Afghan de-miner from ECC/G4S-ordnance management hands an artifact to a supervisor as he searches for unexploded ordnance on an old battleground near Kandahar Air Field April 10, 2010. (REUTERS/Tim Wimborne) #

Afghan women work on doll clothing at a workshop sponsored by a Malaysian NGO called Mercy that seeks to help local females to empower themselves. 80 women participate in every workshop despite rising tensions between an increasing Taliban presence in the city and the extensive NATO presence. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images) #

An Afghan man enjoys a sunny day, diving into a swimming pool in Kabul on April 28, 2010. (MAURICIO LIMA/AFP/Getty Images) #

Afghan National Army soldiers march near piles of derelict tanks and armored personnel carriers which were destroyed during the Soviet occupation and civil war, during training exercise in Kabul, Afghanistan on April 24, 2010. NATO hopes to grow the Afghan National Army from about 97,000 troops to 171,600 by the end of next year, and the Afghan National Police from about 94,000 officers to 134,000 during the same period. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin) #

An M-4 rifle and a crucifix hang on the wall above the cot of a United States Army soldier with 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division, Monday, April 5, 2010, at a combat outpost in the Arghandab Valley of Kandahar province in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) #

A soldier from the U.S. Army's 20th Battalion, 584 Mobile Augmentation Company (MAC), Route Clearance Patrol, has an early morning cigarette before a patrol in Kandahar April 2, 2010. (REUTERS/Tim Wimborne) #

Security personnel keep watch from the rooftop of Kabul's sport stadium during an official ceremony marking the 18th anniversary of the defeat of the communist regime in Afghanistan, April 28, 2010. (REUTERS/Ahmad Masood) #

Members of the Afghan National Army stand at attention during a ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of the fall of a Soviet-installed regime on April 28, 2010 in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images) #

Veteran U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Dan Nevins, who lost his legs due to an injury in Afghanistan, stands on the runway during the "Dressed To Kilt" charity fashion show in New York April 5, 2010. Proceeds from the show will benefit the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Erskine Hospital of Scotland and the Wounded Warrior Project. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson) #

An afghan woman arranges cow dung cakes as she works in a field in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, April 4, 2010. The dried dung is used for fuel. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin) #

A US Marine from India Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines uses a red-colored headlight to read a book at a joint combat outpost with Afghan National Army soldiers, in a stronghold Taliban area in Marjah, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, on April 6, 2010. (MAURICIO LIMA/AFP/Getty Images) #

Afghan bodybuilders compete in a regional bodybuilding competition on April 19, 21010 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Bodybuilding is a very popular sport in Afghanistan. An affordable activity for most Afghans, its popularity is now growing in many provinces. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images) #

An elderly Afghan farmer signs a paper at a meeting with US Marines of India Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, before receiving a sum of money for damages to his residence caused during the ongoing US military offensive against Taliban insurgency, in Marjah, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, on April 12, 2010. (MAURICIO LIMA/AFP/Getty Images) #

A soldier from the U.S. Army's 2nd Platoon, Alpha Troop, 2-1 Infantry Battalion, 5/2 Striker Brigade Combat Team questions an Afghan man about a SIM card he found hidden during an operation in the Arghandab River Valley in Kandahar Province April 16, 2010. (REUTERS/Tim Wimborne) #

An Afghan photographer develops portraits on a street on April 15, 2010 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. (Photo Majid Saeedi/Getty Images) #

Taliban insurgents and civilians stand in front of a destroyed German military vehicle in Isaa Khail village of Char Dara district of the northern Kunduz Province April 3, 2010. Three German soldiers were killed and five others seriously injured in fighting in Kunduz, the German Army Command in Potsdam said on Friday. (REUTERS/Wahdat) #

U.S. Army Sgt. Tiffany Dalagelis, Farah Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) civil affairs member, smells some mint leaves given to her by locals after a meeting with the Kineske Council about the completion of a canal project in Kineske, Afghanistan on April 8, 2010. Members from the PRT met with leadership from Kineske to visit the canal where local Afghans completed a self-sustained cleaning project aimed at improving the agricultural development of the area. (ISAF Photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Rylan K. Albright) #

Senior Airman Carlos Cortez stands near a transfer case containing the remains of Army Pfc. Jonathon D. Hall Thursday, April 15, 2010 at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. According to the Department of Defense, Hall, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, died while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark) #

An Afghan boy approaches a car as the rain starts in central Kabul, on April 26, 2010. (MAURICIO LIMA/AFP/Getty Images) #

US Marines anti-explosives squad team of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, blow up a roadside bomb after being found by a sniffer dog, during a 48-hour operation in attempt to hold back insurgency activities in a stronghold Taliban area in Marjah, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan. A single Afghan man was detained with a scratch map and a mobile number written on his hand nearby the site where a roadside bomb was found. (MAURICIO LIMA/AFP/Getty Images) #

Nadiya, an internally displaced Afghan girl holds her sister outside a shanty dwelling, in a refugee camp in Kabul, Afghanistan on Tuesday, April 27, 2010. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin) #

U.S. Army Spc. Greg R. Kenshalo, of Fresno, California, a rifleman with 2nd Platoon, Troop C, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Destroyer, fires an automatic grenade launcher during a small arms attack on Combat Outpost Bar Alai on April 5th, 2010. Multiple insurgents with automatic machine guns opened fire about seven hours after a sniper also shot at the base. Neither Afghan National Army personnel nor International Security Assistance Forces were injured during the attacks. (U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gary A. Witte, 300th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment) #

In this photo taken on Sunday, April 25, 2010, an Afghan National Army soldier poses for a photograph during training session in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin) #

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Chris Spadaccini, a squad automatic weapon gunner with 3rd Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, holds up the bullet that was removed from his shoulder at the 451st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron's contingency aeromedical staging facility at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, April 13, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez) #

Illuminated by the flashlight of an M4 rifle, a blindfolded and handcuffed Afghan detainee crouches in a corner after having a meal given to him by US Marines of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines at their combat outpost, formerly a Taliban headquarters in Marjah, southern Afghanistan, on April 1, 2010. (MAURICIO LIMA/AFP/Getty Images) #