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In praise of the ‘Konbini’

Monday 14 April 2014 Eye witness

A kombini news stand. (AFP Photo / Yoshikazu Tsuno)

Since I arrived in Japan 18 months ago, I’ve been saying to myself that to write about the ‘Konbini’, these incredible supermarkets that stay open 24/7, would be too much of a cliche, a faux pas typical of the hack fresh off the boat. But what the hell. I want to write about it, so here we go: The Konbini.

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In search of the prophet

Thursday 10 April 2014 Eye witness

T.B. Joshua (AFP Photo/Robert Leslie)

AFP video journalist Robert Leslie goes on a mission to Lagos, where he tries to interview Nigeria's best known healer-preacher, a self-styled "commissioned" voice of Jesus Christ. (AFP Photo/Robert Leslie)

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The priest with a huge heart

Wednesday 9 April 2014 Eye witness

Father Frans van der Lugt posing at the monastery of the Jesuit Fathers where he lived in the besieged area of Homs in Syria. (AFP Photo/Mohammed Abu Hamza)

Beirut-based AFP journalist Karim Abou Merhi reflects on the life and death of Father Frans van der Lugt, the Dutch priest who was murdered in Homs this week. Abou Merhi had interviewed the peace activist via Skype in February and was struck by his unshakable desire to help the Syrian people, and the hope he continued to express despite enduring hardship

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Filming the unbearable lightness of being

Monday 31 March 2014 Eye witness

Reporter Antoine Demaison experiences weightlessness. (Photo: Novespace)

"It was a childhood dream, going back to when I first devoured the 17th volume of Tintin's adventures, ‘Explorers on the Moon’. Now, 30 years and a sleepless night later, I was about to find out what it's really like to go to space. Well, sort of. I was to about to experience weightlessness."

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'If you step into Crimea I'll break your camera'

Friday 28 March 2014 Eye witness

Pro-Russian militiamen beat a man near the Ukrainian airbase in Belbek in Crimea, March 22, 2014. (AFP Photo/Viktor Drachev)

"An alarm sounds, followed by an explosion. A tank has just destroyed one of the concrete walls. Second blast: Another wall collapses. At the same time, an armoured personnel carrier smashes through the main gate. It’s almost 4 p.m. on Saturday March 22, and the Ukrainian base in Belbek, near Sebastopol, is under assault following an ultimatum by the Russian army." (AFP Photo/Viktor Drachev)

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Managing chaos in the Central African Republic

Tuesday 25 March 2014 Eye witness

In Bangui, on February 9, a man makes a gesture that means he's looking for Muslims to attack. (AFP Photo/Issouf Sanogo)

Chaos reigns in the Central African Republic. Horrific violence is rife and lynchings are common. Though journalists aren’t necessarily the first targets, working in the troubled nation makes for a tough assignment, writes AFP Africa desk editor Jean-Pierre Campagne.

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Remembering Sardar Ahmad

Saturday 22 March 2014 Eye witness

Sardar Ahmad poses for a photograph with his daughter Nilofar (L) and son Omar (R) at the AFP office in Kabul on February 16, 2012. (AFP Photo/Joris Fioriti)

The senior reporter for Agence France-Presse in Kabul, Sardar Ahmad, was shot dead along with his wife Humaira and two of their three children in a Taliban attack on a hotel on Thursday. Here his bureau chief Ben Sheppard reflects on a much-loved colleague.

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AFP reporter Sardar Ahmad's final story

Friday 21 March 2014 Eye witness


Sardar Ahmad, a staff reporter at AFP, has been killed in a Taliban attack on Kabul's Serena hotel. Ahmad, 40, was shot dead along with his wife and two of his three children when four teenage gunmen attacked the hotel on Thursday evening.

Here is his final story.

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Electric cars in a Kingdom of Happiness

Friday 14 March 2014 Eye witness

Nissan head Carlos Ghosn and Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay unveil a "Leaf

Video journalist Antoine Bouthier and economics journalist Patrice Novotny from AFP's Tokyo bureau make a rare visit to the reclusive Kingdom of Bhutan -- along with a multinational car maker.

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The bad dream of a new Cold War

Monday 10 March 2014 Eye witness

A man is silhouetted in a Soviet Union flag at a pro-Russian rally in St. Petersburg on March 9, 2014. (AFP Photo/Olga Maltseva)

"Russia is going to incorporate Crimea into its territory and is not going to let it go. How many times since World War II has the map of Europe been changed in a stroke like this?" writes AFP's Moscow correspondent Stuart Williams. "While I doubt there will be a military conflict, a chill is going to set in on relations between Russia and the West which is going to make other crises seem positively amenable."

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When bare breasts are a problem

Friday 7 March 2014 Eye witness


Yesterday, we posted this picture but decided to censor the nipple to make sure we didn't violate any of Facebook's standards. But as several people commented under the picture, it is a strange paradox that it seems OK to show a photograph of violence against a woman, but not to let people see her chosen means of protest (toplessness.)

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A frantic treasure hunt, with fugitive president the prize

Monday 3 March 2014 Eye witness


"When you’re a correspondent in Russia, you get used to long waits and rigorous security checks ahead of official news conferences," writes AFP Moscow correspondent Germain Moyon. "But the scheduled appearance of Viktor Yakunovych took things to a new level."

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One week in Kiev

Monday 24 February 2014 Eye witness

The toilets in the private residence of ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. (AFP Photo/Yuriy Dyachyshyn)

Just a few days ago, it seemed as though Ukraine's political crisis might be edging towards a peaceful resolution. Then everything fell apart.

Max Delany is AFP’s Caucasus correspondent, based in Tbilisi, Georgia. He is in Kiev covering the country's crisis and writes here about a historic week in Ukraine's capital. (AFP Photo/Yuriy Dyachyshyn)

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Get a room! A peek inside Tokyo's love hotels

Friday 14 February 2014 Eye witness

Get a room. A customer picks up a room key at the Two-Way hotel in Tokyo. (AFP Photo/Yoshikazu Tsuno)

AFP Tokyo videojournalist Antoine Bouthier was recently given an assignment: Produce a story on Japan’s booming “Love Hotels” – the popular but rarely filmed establishments where couples can rent a room for just a couple of hours.

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Fire, ice and blood on the streets of Kiev

Wednesday 12 February 2014 Eye witness

Anti-government protesters walk past burnt and frozen vehicle remains in Kiev. January 23, 2014. (AFP Photo/Volodymyr Shuvayev)

AFP Moscow correspondent Stuart Williams looks back on the months of protest that have transformed Kiev, a city that he loves. (AFP Photo/Dmitry Serebryakov)

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Found at sea: When a castaway washes onto your shores

Sunday 9 February 2014 Eye witness


Giff Johnson edits the Marshall Islands Journal newspaper and is a regular contributor to AFP. As a longtime resident of the remote Marshall Islands, he's covered many remarkable stories of ocean castaways.

Here's his account of the story behind the latest such tale, that of a fisherman who claims to have survived 13 months on the seas.

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Mel Gunasekera, colleague and friend

Sunday 9 February 2014 Eye witness


Mel Gunasekera became AFP's first full-time woman correspondent in Colombo when she joined in January 2007. She had covered Sri Lanka's Tamil separatist war and its bloody finale in 2009 and was widely respected across the country. On February 2, she was murdered at her Colombo home after confronting a burglar.

Her former colleague, AFP bureau chief Amal Jayasinghe, pays tribute.

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The silence of the Pol Pot of the Andes

Friday 7 February 2014 Eye witness


“My name is Manuel Rubén Abimael Guzman Reynoso.” Spoken in a frail voice, these are the only eight words to leave the mouth of the former leader of the Shining Path guerrilla group, responsible for some of Peru’s darkest moments.

Luis Jaime Cisneros, currently AFP's correspondant in Lima, was a young journalist during the height of the conflict between the Shining Path and the Peruvian security forces. On January 20, he attended a new trial for the man many in Peru blame for the country's darkest hours. (AFP Photo /Hector Mata)

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Catching the ocean autobahn

Wednesday 5 February 2014 Eye witness

Sunset in the middle of the Atlantic in May 2001. (AFP Photo/Marchel Mochet)

AFP correspondent Sebastian Smith wraps up his yearlong trip aboard his boat the “Moon River”.

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Tower Power: Replica Eiffels pop up around the world

Wednesday 29 January 2014 Eye witness

A replica Eiffel Tower at a the Tianducheng development in Hangshou, China. (AFP Photo)

What do Tokyo, Las Vegas, Hangzhou and Tegucigalpa have in common?

All boast a replica – more or less true to the original – of the Eiffel Tower, Paris's landmark building that has long been a symbol of the city and of France itself. AFP's Roland de Courson looks at some of the more famous -- and more quirky -- faux-Eiffels. (AFP Photo)

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