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About our cover star

The mortar-man on the front of this week's issue

The photographer responsible for the striking Afghanistan cover this week is Lucian Read. We dropped him a quick line to find out more about our cover star. Read, a busy man, dashed off the following email:

He is mortar-man with Charlie Co 2nd Battalion 12 Infantry Regiment stationed in Afghanistan Pech Valley. The photograph was taken between fire missions on the morning of the presidential election [7 November 2009] when the company's base came under sustained fire from Taliban fighters in the surrounding mountainsides.