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As Atta and his security chief, Wasiq, described how Mazar had been taken, it became clear that this fighting had finished only hours before I arrived. They told me about Sultan Raziya, a girls' school in the southeast part of the city, where Pakistani "tourists," as they called them, had held out until late Tuesday. Reports of a massacre there had filtered out of Mazar the weekend before. "Many people died there," said Wasiq. "We had to kill many." I asked if I could visit the site. Wasiq smiled and said I would have to get permission from Atta.
As we approached Sultan Raziya the next morning, a Red Cross team was sifting the rubble and transferring bodies and pieces of bodies onto a flatbed tractor trailer. The stench of death hung across the ruins. The team concentrated on intact bodies that could be lifted by the arms and legs. There had been more than 300 of them so far. With Atta's permission, I was given free rein to climb through the rubble, stepping past corpse after corpse, many of them dismembered. Elsewhere, fire had reduced everything--furniture, clothing, people--to ash.