News Afghan children play cricket on the outskirts of Jalalabad, Nangarhar province, near to Alinghar, Laghman where the cricket players were shot by a gunman.

Authorities say the gunman rode on a motorbike and shot the group of men

Russian soldier 'missing in action' for 30 years found in Afghanistan

A former Soviet soldier who went missing more than three decades ago during Moscow’s ill-fated invasion of Afghanistan has been found alive and well near the city of Herat.

Review: Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan, By William Dalrymple

How we lost the war – all over again

British soldiers in direct combat roles will not be asked to serve an extra three months in Afghanistan

UK troops face final sacrifice as tours of duty in Afghanistan to be extended by half in the perilous run-up to withdrawal

British troops are likely to have the length of their tours in Afghanistan extended by half in the crucial period leading to the end of combat operations, The Independent has learnt. The tours of duty served by key units may rise from six to nine months, under the plans to ensure that Afghanistan’s army and police are in a position to take over security duties.

Newly trained Afghan police at their graduation ceremony in Helmand earlier this month

Afghan forces 'are just like criminals'

Murder, sexual abuse, drugs and extortion revealed in Panorama investigation

Walking Wounded: Return to the Frontline: photographer Giles Duley who lost both his legs and arm in Afghanistan returns 18 months later to complete his work

TV review: Walking Wounded: Return to the Frontline, Channel 4

Murder on the Victorian Railway, BBC2

Children found in refrigerated van by UK Border Force

Four children suffered hypothermia after being locked in a refrigerated lorry in a failed attempt to enter the country, the UK Border Force said.

Prime Minister to meet with Afghan and Pakistani leaders

David Cameron will meet the Afghan and Pakistani presidents tonight in the latest round of talks aimed at preventing a Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan when British troops leave next year.

Aslam: Despite the atrocities, his view of Islam is nuanced

The Blind Man's Garden, By Nadeem Aslam Faber and Faber £18.99

This poetic but devastating novel about Islamic extremism and the conflict in Afghanistan has the authenticity of lived experience

The Blind Man's Garden, By Nadeem Aslam

A monumental novel of love and conflict dramatises the war on terror

Prince Harry has used his time in Afghanistan to attempt to cultivate a different image

Harry's game: the prince and the PR mission

Forget Las Vegas: The third in line to the throne used his Afghan tour to cultivate a very different image. Emily Dugan reports on a royal rebrand

Prince Harry relaxes after scoring a goal during a computer football game with his fellow Apache Helicopter Pilot Capt Simon Beattie (left), during their 12 hour VHR (very high readiness) shift

Harry finally opens fire ... on the press

The media blackout on the prince’s deployment in Afghanistan came to an end last night – with a bang. Cahal Milmo and Ian Burrell report

One policeman killed after Taliban militant attack on Kabul police headquarters

At least one policeman was killed today when Taliban militants detonated a car bomb at the gates of the Kabul traffic police headquarters and then stormed the compound, setting off a six-hour gun battle with security forces, authorities said.

Iphigenia in Forest Hills, By Janet Malcolm

Skewed justice of the trigger happy judge and his prejudice

Royal Marine Sergeant Steve Lord tests a Glock 17 9mm pistol, on an indoor shooting range at Woolwich Barracks, south-east London, as personnel from all three services are to start using the new Glock pistols after a contract was awarded to replace the currently used Browning model

Insider attacks lead to new sidearms for British troops

British forces are to be armed with a new combat sidearm for the first time in more than half a century to protect themselves against new types of threats. The Browning Hi-Power pistol, which first came into service in 1954, will be replaced by the Glock 17, which has been chosen after intensive trials.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
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Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

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Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

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Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

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Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

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He's behind you, dude!

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Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

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Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

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