News and opinions on situation in Iraq
 
19/01/05

Car Bombs by Dahr Jamail


** Dahr Jamail’s Iraq Dispatches **
** dahrjamailiraq.com **

January 19, 2005

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 intact.

I quickly throw on some clothes, grab my camera and run into the hall-where it is filled with so much dust dahrjamailiraq.com/gallery/view_photo.php?set_albumName=album31&id=dustyhall it’s difficult to see.

In the hall, as well as all the others I see as I run upstairs, pieces of ceiling dahrjamailiraq.com/gallery/view_photo.php?set_albumName=album31&id=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 dahrjamailiraq.com/gallery/view_photo.php?set_albumName=album31&id=bodies lay in pools of blood across the street.

A small building near the Australian outpost received heavy damage dahrjamailiraq.com/gallery/view_photo.php?set_albumName=album31&id=fires 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 away…she 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 dahrjamailiraq.com/gallery/view_photo.php?set_albumName=album31&id=fullview in 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 dahrjamailiraq.com/gallery/view_photo.php?set_albumName=album31&id=bombaussies, 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 crumbled…it is like being in a large earthquake, but the tremors consolidated into one large shake.

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 dahrjamailiraq.com/gallery/view_photo.php?set_albumName=album31&id=military 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 writing…Abu Talat calls and can’t make it over for our work because so many roads nearby my hotel are closed.

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 guards.

A military installation was also attacked, killing two American soldiers and two civilians.

Iraqis around my hotel compound are sweeping up glass dahrjamailiraq.com/gallery/view_photo.php?set_albumName=album31&id=sweepingglass 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.”

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