Ivan Watson, NPR
Said Marjan sits beside the hospital bed of his sister, Sherifa, in Kandahar. Sherifa, 8, was shot in the stomach after being caught in crossfire between Taliban fighters and Afghan government forces in their village in southern Afghanistan.
Clashes between the Taliban and allied coalition and Afghan troops have claimed hundreds of lives in the past month. The results of the violence can be seen at the main hospital at the coalition airbase outside Kandahar, where most of the casualties are Afghans.
Sherifa and Said Marjan
Sherifa, 8, was caught in a crossfire several days ago between Taliban fighters and government forces in Volontsaki village. Her brother, Said Marjan, says it wasn't until the next day that she was able to get medical treatment, when coalition helicopters medevaced Sherifa and her cousin, who was shot in the face, to Kandahar Air Field.
"I could see her the whole night I was awake with her," Marjan says while sitting at her bedside. "I could see her she's screaming and moving and she was awake the whole night and she was suffering the whole night."
Sherifa now appears to be in stable condition, though she is clearly in pain and it is difficult for her to breathe. Marjan says the Taliban have been operating around his village for three months because the local government has no presence in the district.
"We don't have any government presence in our village. We have got some national army guys which are very far from us," Marjan says. "Basically our village is kind of walking side, or commute side for Taliban. Because they come from Pakistan and they walk our village and they go to the mountains of Marouf district, and there is nothing. We don't have any clinics there. We only have one doctor."
Marjan says that before this battle, Taliban fighters set fire to the school Sherifa was attending.
Mohammed Niaz, 21, had been working as an interpreter for Canadian soldiers in Kandahar for a year and a half when he ended up in his first firefight.
The incident took place in the district of Panjwai, less then 20 miles west of Kandahar.
"We were going there for some security reasons, some security patrols. And then Taliban attacked us in Panjwai district," Niaz says. "And then my sergeant told me to sit in the vehicle because of small-arms fire. So when I was in the vehicle, the vehicle got shot by RPG. Just my door. My side, my door."
Niaz managed to squeeze of two rounds from his pistol before the rocket-propelled grenade punctured his side of the Canadian armored vehicle. He says he knew immediately that he had lost one leg. The other leg was later amputated by doctors.
Less then a week after the ambush, Niaz lies in a hospital bed at Kandahar Air Field. His father, a police officer, regularly visits him.
"So all the day, if I didn't have anything else to do, I'm crying," Niaz says.
Niaz is a married and the father of a young girl. He now wants the Canadian government to do more to help him recover from his wounds.
"Actually I want help. Whenever their [soldiers get] hit, they are sending them to Germany or Canada right away. I've been laying here for one week now. Come on! Help me."
Abdul Kayunis, 26, a soldier in the Afghan National Army, was wounded Sunday when the vehicle his unit was patrolling in hit a roadside bomb.
The explosion broke his leg and both of his wrists. He also suffered bruises to his face.
Kayunis has little respect for his enemies in the Taliban.
"Well, they cannot resist against us, what they do is fight like thieves….They show up in one place and hit us and then run away. So this is how they fight."
Before becoming a soldier, Kayunis was a fighter loyal to a warlord in the highlands of central Afghanistan, with experience battling the Taliban.
More recently, he says he captured a Taliban fighter while patrolling in Zabul province.
"The time that I myself captured one of them, we were coming back from a mission and on the way we saw that one of them was trying to plant a mine on the way," Kayunis says. "And I saw one of them and jumped out of the car and ran after him and put him in the car and brought him to the center of the province."
Five of Kayunis' fellow soldiers have been injured in separate attacks in southeastern Afghanistan. He says his comrades need better equipment to fight this enemy.
"We've got problems with the weapons that we have. We have old weapons," Kayunis says. "Also, we do not have enough machine guns with us. We've got some in each battalion, but that's not enough for this war."
Kayunis has avoided contacting his wife and family to inform them about his injuries. He says he doesn't want to worry them, and he plans to return to duty when he recovers.