Battle zones welcome tourists
THOUSANDS of people are fleeing Afghanistan but American backpacker John Milton recently visited the war-ravaged country - for a holiday.
Hardy bands of "war tourists", such as Mr Milton, visit Afghanistan's pristine mountains and mediaeval ruins every year, ignoring warnings of kidnappings and bombings.
A Taleban attack last week on a group of American and European tourists in Herat province, which left some wounded, has brought into focus such thrill-seekers.
Mr Milton, a 46-year-old former investment banker, has also been to Somalia and North Korea.
But war-zone tourism is hardly limited to Afghanistan.
James Willcox is the founder of England-based adventure travel operator Untamed Borders which has organised trips to Afghanistan, Somalia and Somaliland.
"One of the main reasons people come on our trips... is to (see) countries for the multi-faceted, complex places they are.
"We do not choose destinations because they are dangerous," he noted.
Said a government spokesman: "Afghanistan desperately needs foreign tourists."
Some 20,000 foreigners visited Kabul last year.