Afghan bomb kills scholar from Mass.





A 31-year-old former Medway resident, who was a specialist in the politics and culture of Afghanistan, was killed by a roadside bomb in a remote region of that country along with two US soldiers on Wednesday.

Michael Bhatia, a Brown University graduate and a doctoral candidate at Oxford University in England, had been in Afghanistan since November, helping the Army's 82d Airborne Division to understand the country's tribal customs. He is among a handful of academics who have partnered with the US military in so-called human terrain teams to establish peace in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"He's as much of a hero as any soldier out there," said Steve Fondacaro, program manager for the military's Human Terrain project. "He willingly left a comfortable environment, where he could have continued to be the great scholar he was . . . Michael Bhatia is responsible for hundreds of people being alive today."

Bhatia was considered among his peers to be a scholar's scholar - always on the hunt for that last interview or piece of information that would solve a long-standing dispute in a war-torn area. His family said he made at least eight trips to Afghanistan since his 1995 graduation from Medway High School, and colleagues said he also had been to the volatile areas of the Sahrawi refugee camps near Tindouf, Algeria, along with East Timor and Kosovo.



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