Tuesday, December 12, 2006
The Trademark of Death
Yesterday it was sitting in the armored Humvee’s getting shot at by RPG’s, today a sniper decided to try and take a shot at us.
The worst thing is that there is no warning, no sense of impending danger all that you experience is the sound. The air simply cracks, one single round the trademark of a sniper.
We were down at the Government Center, well to use the term Government and Center together is an oxymoron. Because whilst it may be known as the Government Center, certainly no administration has taken place there for a while. On previous trips it was always where you met the Provincial powerbrokers, but that was before six major bombing attacks on the building compound and a daily assault from mortars, rpgs and snipers.
It is now a shell, cold stark and with tables and chairs covered with dust, no heating exists and the cold in the rooms reflects what is left of the town. Across the road from the GC there used to be shops and building, now there is rubble. The buildings were leveled first by 500 lb bombs then by demolition teams, as they had become a haven for terrorists from which to attack the Government Center.
This morning we went there with the Marines who had escorted a local contractor and his foremen whose job it will be to remove the rubble from outside and make the area suitable for a car park for the GC and planners even have ideas for a park. Now given that no parks exist in this city it seems an ambitious urban planning scheme to say the least.
So whilst the Marines were escorting the contractors out thru the safe back way to the alley and then to the street so that they could assess the task ahead, we tagged along wanting to shoot a segment link for the War Stories Special.
We had a couple of takes in the camera and moved to change angle with the camera rolling Ollie was just about to start when the sniper “sniped”. It shakes you up for a second or two and Ollie headed for the wall, I just ducked down and waited for the inevitable gunfight, but the discipline of the Marines is such that locating the position from which the shot was fired is more important than blasting away.
The site survey did not last much longer and we moved back into the safety (sic) of the Govt Center and spent time filming Xmas Greetings with Marines even then the cracks in the air continued on and off. Just another day in Ramadi.