- The thundering blast rocks me awake at 7:05am. The first
thing my eyes see are the curtains of my room flowing in, as if a strong
wind is blowing into my room.
- 'Holy shit, they hit the embassy,' I think to myself,
'the blast was so close.'
- I leave my windows cracked and curtains drawn for just
this reason-while my door was blasted open, splintering the frame where
it was locked shut, none of my windows shattered. Aside from small chunks
from the ceiling of my room strewn about the floor, I am alright.
- I look out my window and see that despite shattered glass
strewn outside many of the nearby buildings, the Australian embassy is
- I quickly throw on some clothes, grab my camera and run
into the hall-where it is filled with so much dust
it's difficult to see.
- In the hall, as well as all the others I see as I run
upstairs, pieces of ceiling
and broken glass are everywhere.
- The suicide car bomb detonated near the base of a large
building across the street which is home to many Australian soldiers. From
there they guard the checkpoint to their nearby embassy from the multi-story
building with snipers. Two smoldering bits of a vehicle sit nearby the
building, and two bodies
lay in pools of blood across the street.
- A small building near the Australian outpost received
damage right in front of the detonated car. Despite being heavily fortified
with concrete barriers, razor wire, sand bags, and sand barriers, the outpost
has chunks blown out of it and the netting and plywood which covers many
of the windows is hanging haphazardly out the openings.
- I was on the roof just minutes after the blast and the
Iraqi Police (IP) had already arrived en masse. A woman screaming in hysterics
is pushed inside one of their trucks and taken awayshe was trying to reach
one of the bodies as several policeman ushered her off.
- Other IP's inspect the bodies while black smoke plumes
languidly drift down the street
the early morning stillness.
- Police run about, yelling orders and barking at journalists,
but there is nothing much else for them to do. They load the two bodies
into a vehicle and drive them to a morgue.
- It is a seemingly senseless attack-as this building occupied
by the Australian military is so heavily fortified that no car bomb could
possibly reach it. This one caused merely superficial damage
and killed only civilians while wounding some Australian soldiers.
- This was a smaller car bomb, as it didn't leave a crater
like so many of the others. Nevertheless, glass is shattered in buildings
hundreds of meters away from the blast, pieces of wall are crumbledit is
like being in a large earthquake, but the tremors consolidated into one
- About 20 minutes later several truckloads of Iraqi soldiers
show up, many of them wearing their usual black facemasks.
- 15 minutes after this the US military shows
up with 10 Humvees, a Bradley and a large tank. They seal the street,
and begin to string their razor wire across the road.
- Two Apache helicopters arrive and commence rumbling in
circles around the area, buzzing overhead.
- I watch an old woman who lives in a home just across
from the bombing. She is walking around in her yard aimlessly, sometimes
stopping to slowly pick up rubble from her wall that was damaged in the
blast, then just looking around her home.
- Half an hour after this another large car bomb detonates
in eastern Baghdad at an Iraqi police headquarters, killing 18 people as
the explosion echoes across the capital city.
- I return to my room to commence writingAbu Talat calls
and can't make it over for our work because so many roads nearby my hotel
- As I write three more huge explosions rumble across the
center of Baghdad. In a span of just 90 minutes five car bombs detonated
killing at least 26 people.
- One of the car bombs detonated outside a bank where IP's
were collecting their salaries, killing at least 10 of them.
- Another car bomb detonated at the airport, killing two
- A military installation was also attacked, killing two
American soldiers and two civilians.
- Iraqis around my hotel compound are sweeping up glass
as I make some calls to let folks know I'm alive.
- The US-backed Iraqi government has announced draconian
measures which state that from January 29th-31st the borders of Iraq will
be closed, mobile and satellite phone services will be cut, the borders
of Iraq's 18 governorates will be closed and no civilian traffic will be
allowed near the polling stations.
- Polling stations will each have several rings of security
in an attempt to stave off the violence. Be that as it may, the Ministry
of Health is making special preparations to deal with the massive bloodshed
expected for the "elections."
- (c)2004 Dahr Jamail.
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