The bomber blew himself up no more than a few yards away. First, a brilliant flash of orange light like a starburst, then a giant popping sound. A gust of debris, flesh and blood threw me from my chair as if I were made of cardboard.After the bombing:
I was lying on a bed of shattered glass on the floor of the cafeteria in the Iraqi parliament building, covered with ashes and dust. Small pieces of flesh clung to my bluejeans. Blood, someone else's, speckled the left lens of my silver-rimmed glasses. Blood, mine, oozed from my left hand, punctured by a tiny shard of glass.
"Are you okay? Are you okay?" asked Saad al-Izzi, one of The Post's Iraqi correspondents, standing over me, his face framed by an eerie yellowish glow, his voice distant. I did not reply.
I found my dust-covered notebook. Some pages were splotched with blood. When I found my tape recorder, it was still running.On a scale of horror, this bombing ranks fairly low. Only one person died, unlike for example the bombing of Tal Afar last month where over 150 people died. But this attack was carried out to send a message to the government, and to us. That message is summarized pretty fairly in the beginning sentence of this article in the Belfast Telegraph:
Later, I heard the vocabulary of a bombing's initial moments:
"The rest, where are the rest?" someone screamed.
"Let's go out."
"Wait a minute, wait a minute."
"Khalid, Hamada," someone said, yelling out names.
"God is the greatest."
"What is this?"
"Who is this?"
"Khalid! Pick him up!"
"Is there a doctor at the training room?"
"Yes, there is one."
"It's all a curse on us, Ayad. It's because of the stealing, the corruption."
"Why, God, why?"
"Ah ahhhahhhh," someone screamed in pain.
A few minutes later, Hiti recounted his story. He, too, had reentered the building, to save his friends. He passed an arm and two legs on his way back to the cafeteria, he said. A few feet from our table, he found the body of his friend Mohammed Awad.
Next to him sat another lawmaker, staring at Awad in shock.
Hiti gently shook the man. "He's dead," he said.
Then he helped the man out of the building.
Nowhere is safe.