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Enduring Freedom: TRUE GRIT; TV news girl Lara Logan is facing daily danger just 100 yards from the forces of the Taliban.



TV NEWS girl Lara Logan spent Thursday night within 100 yards of the battle between Taliban and Northern Alliance forces.

The war correspondent really does have True Grit, and as one of the closest reporters to the fighting near Kabul, will be reporting from the frontline for the Daily Record.

For the past two weeks home for Lara has been a sleeping bag on a floor she shares with five other men.

For food, she relies on biscuits and whatever provisions she can coax out of her ITN colleagues.

And as a woman in a fiercely Islamic region, simple things like having a bath can lead to dangerous confrontations.

Lara, 30, explains: "We did manage to make one trip high up into the mountains so we could try to have a bath.

"I had to bathe in my pyjamas because you can't expose too much, especially if you are a woman. But that wasn't enough.

"By the time we came out we had a lynch mob waiting for us and it took some fast talking by our interpreter to get us out of it.

"They really were seriously offended and said we had violated Islamic law by entering the river to bathe. We were very lucky to get out of there."

Life in a war zone is a million miles from the comfort of the GMTV sofa, but Lara, while aware of the dangers, wouldn't swap with her London-based colleagues for the world.

She said: "With the Taliban's position so close you have to be very, very careful," she says.

"That means driving in absolute darkness and working in complete darkness.

"We are wearing full body armour and that's difficult to work in, but it's the only thing you have that makes you feel a little bit safe.

"Every time you put it on you wonder, Do I need this? Or is this going to be the gesture that saves my life? It sounds a bit melodramatic but that's how I felt.

"But in spite of the discomfort and strain of working in such difficult conditions, it's a privilege to be a witness to such dramatic events in this remarkable land."

And her employers at GMTV are more than happy with Lara's work.

Lara's Scots boss Martin Frizell says: "I've been speaking to Lara most nights and she's coping well.

"She has no running water; she cleans her face with wet wipes, but she still uses moisturiser because she's strict in her cleansing routine in terms of what she looks like on camera.

"She's taken French cosmetics with her in her bag."

Of comparisons with veteran BBC reporter Kate Adie, Frizell said: "There's only one Kate Adie and only one Lara.

"I think Lara would deny that she's anything like Kate Adie. She's younger and prettier for a start."

Frizell, who is married to GMTV presenter Fiona Phillips, admits he wouldn't send his wife to Afghanistan.

But he insists Lara, who has even been shot at by a Taliban sniper, is experienced in dealing with the difficulties and risks of reporting conflict.

"Fiona's not a war correspondent. But Lara probably would think of herself as one," he said.

"She's been in quite a few war zones and comes from South Africa, where they've had their fair share of dodging bullets and keeping their heads down. She knows what risks to take.

"She's also worked in Kosovo for the International Medical Corps and had some heavy moments there. She was one of our most experienced people to send to Afghanistan.

"Lara is the first to be knocking on the door whenever anything is dangerous or challenging. I think she's very brave.

"We did think about the fact that she's a woman because of the way some of them treat women.

"But our team are the closest journalists to Kabul.

"The BBC are on TV every night with crystal clear satellite links, but they're miles from the frontline."

STARTING MONDAY GMTV's Lara Logan will be writing for us from the front lines every day starting Monday. Don't miss her fascinating reports.
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 20, 2001
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