KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Preparations for the Persian New Year were underway in Afghanistan on Monday amid heightened security.
Nowruz has been celebrated across the historic Persian world for around 3,000 years and falls on the vernal equinox.
Two epa correspondents at opposite ends of Afghanistan captured some of the preparations.
In the southern city of Kandahar, towards the border with Pakistan, one young boy offered a smile to go along with the green, red and black national flags he was selling ahead of the holiday period.
Another national flag could be spotted tucked into the military belt of a security officer watching over a checkpoint in this restive area.
Meanwhile, further north in Nangarhar Province, security guards frisked several civilians making their way down a major transport route.
In another shot, a guardsman dressed in fatigues stands behind a gun turret which is pointing up to the blue Afghan sky.
Nowruz ushers in spring and can include several rituals that mark rejuvenation – such as fire jumping and feasts.
It is celebrated widely across central and western Asia from the Kurdish regions of Iraq and Turkey to Azerbaijan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan, among others.