Multiple Explosions

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Monday Update:

Video: Seven Car Bombs

Sunday, April 23, 2006

We often hear gunfire outside the Baghdad bureau, usually at night. Sometimes it's just a shot or two, other times it lasts for 20 or 30 seconds — multiple rounds from a heavy weapon.

We also hear explosions, but usually just one at a time, far enough away that they just sound like muffled booms.

This morning though, I was up early, and at around 8 a.m., I heard a rapid succession of blasts that sounded closer than usual. This was no car bomb or roadside IED, I decided. They were multiple explosions in a short period of time, perhaps within ten seconds.

I scanned the horizon but saw no signs of smoke or fire, and heard no sirens or calls for help. Perhaps it wasn't an attack? Perhaps it wasn't as close as I'd thought?

A couple of hours later, in the office, I found out what happened. It was apparently a rocket or mortar attack that fell just short of one of the high concrete walls ringing the Green Zone, where many U.S. and coalition forces, diplomats, contractors and top Iraqi politicians live and work.

There were three blasts in the street, killing seven Iraqi civilians and wounding eight others. Three of the people hurt worked at the Iraqi Defense Ministry nearby.

There were eight other mortars or rockets that apparently exploded at the same time on the other side of the Tigris River, that hit no targets and hurt no one. These, I think, were what I heard.

Who is firing mortars or rockets in broad daylight? I wondered. Why didn't anyone see them, or if they did, why didn't anyone do anything to stop them? Unfortunately, this kind of thing is happening all too often here.

Perhaps with the new government taking shape, a new attitude and strength will infuse the powers that be, and the people on the street. Maybe it's the beginning of the end for the insurgents and terrorists disrupting daily life here. That's what a lot of people are hoping.

April 21, 2006Video: Shiites' Nominee

I knew I shouldn't have played another game.

It was mid-afternoon and 100 degrees. I know because I checked Weather.com when I went back inside. I was hot, tired and worn-out after two competitive basketball games with producer Dragan. I beat him 11-6 in the first, then he won 11-9 in the second. His shot was falling more regularly, and he was stepping up on defense now, blocking me more regularly when I tried to take the ball inside. He beat me one game the other day too, but I took the rubber match.

"You wanna stop?" he asked, as we drank water in the shade, debating whether to play a third game. "I’m pretty beat," I told him. We went back and forth over the issue, debating whether it was appropriate to stop with a tie. "How about we play to three?" I asked. "No way" he told me. "We play to 11 or we don't play." "I got no gas left in the tank!" I protested. He smiled and said, "If you wanna quit that's fine."

His psychology worked. "Alright. Come on." I grabbed the ball and checked it to him, and he caught fire in the heat. I had my chances, but couldn't hit a shot, and got skunked 11-0.

April 20, 2006Video:al-Jaafari Deadlock

I walked to the coffee table and made myself a cup. Andy, the engineer, was standing nearby.

"You wet the bed?" he asked.

"Excuse me?"

"Did you wet the bed?"

"No, I didn't wet the bed!"

"Then why are you up so early?"

Apparently, this is an old joke.

Iraq is eight hours ahead of East Coast time in the U.S., so we're usually working well past midnight, then wind down before going to sleep. So most people in the bureau aren't up before 10 or 11 a.m.

This morning, though, I was awake at 8 a.m., already packed from the night before, grabbing my coffee at 8:25 and on time for our 8:30 departure time. We had to hurry. Parliament would be convening in ... seven and a half hours.

We didn't really have to be at the Convention Center until 1 p.m. The drive to the Green Zone only takes 10 or 15 minutes, but our security team had to make an airport run, so we had no choice.

We checked into the Al Rasheed, had some coffee, ordered some sandwiches to go, and walked through several checkpoints before we even made it inside the building where Parliament meets.

Producer Clarissa, who speaks many languages, chatted up the variety of guards along the way.

"Only in the Green Zone do I speak Spanish, Russian, Arabic, and English," she said with a smile. In the span of about three minutes, I noted.

***************************

It's really hot today. REALLY hot. And there appears to be no AC inside the Convention Center, so I learned a new word from one of the Iraqi policeman outside the entrance to the press room.

"Banka murwaha" means "fan" in the Iraqi form of Arabic. He had a murwaha next to his desk, so I shared it with him for a while.

Parliament has only convened once since the December elections. The delays have been blamed on the controversy surrounding interim Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who was nominated for another term in February. The Sunnis and Kurds won't support him, and some Shiites from his own Dawa party are pushing other candidates. Al-Jaafari has resisted calls to step down, but we learned this morning there would be a noon news conference held by the Shiite alliance. "A big announcement," we were told. Then we were given a name. It was the man who would replace al-Jaafari as the party's nominee. There was a buzz in the room. Finally, the government would take shape!

Then the presser began, with a somber-faced Shiite member of Parliament, flanked by another somber-faced associate.

Jomana, another FOX producer, translated for me. There was no new nominee. Al-Jaafari would leave it up to the party to make the decision, and the party wouldn't meet to discuss his fate for the next day or two. Oh, and the Shiites were upset the session was called without consulting them first. "They might not come," he said. They'd meet to discuss it over the next few hours.

I found another murwaha, and planted myself in front of it to wait.

And so it goes...

E-mail Rick

My Grandson is being deployed to Iraq 4/26. I have no idea where he will be serving. If you see some new faces, one may be him. Keep up the good reporting.We look foward to straight news. God Bless you and the crew.

Eleanor


Rick,

We really like the interviews with the troops, and seeing them speak to their families.

Be safe and we will keep you in our prayers,

Karen
Omaha, Nebraska

Rick,

Control of Saddams's old Presidential Palace (called the Republican Palace) in the heart of Baghdad is a high-profile statement of who is in charge. Americans now use it as an annex to the US Embassy. Returning control of this important symbol would go a long way in recognizing and respecting the growing sovereignty of the new Iraqi leadership. Retaining control of this
highly visible icon and mantle of power makes US intensions in Iraq look understandably suspect.

The Iraqis have asked us repeatedly to return it. Why don't we abide by their wishes?

Travis
Houston, Texas


Rick:

If you make it to Al-Asad, our son, James, is with Marine unit VMA-513, the Flying Nightmares. They fly and maintain Harrier jets which support the grunts on the ground.

Mike
Perkasie, PA


Hey Rick:

It's good to know you are back in the thick of things reporting to us from Iraq. I appreciate your blogs. But, I'd really like to see what's up in Ramadi. I have friends there with the 3/8 Marines... I think America needs to get off their lazy butts and start supporting these fine Marines who put their lives on the line each and every day.

So...how 'bout it? The trip to Ramadi should only take, say, 30 hours to get there.....

Betsy


Hope you are staying safe, as I feel by your writing that you are staying fit, with B-ball breaks.

My question, like many others is, is it easing up any at all? Or Is it still as tight and un-predictable as it was two years ago? The media always seems to have the negative first, but most of us that support you and the effort just want to know if it is getting better.

God Bless 'Yall
Jim
Memphis, TN

If I were over there I would try to introduce stickball, as I and my buddies grew up in Long Beach, NY playing one-on-one hoops and stickball. I'd love to get my boyhood friend John to go over to Iraq with me and play you a three-way one-on-one, New York-style basketball but unfortunately, he is a slip and fall attorney and all those sirens would distract him.

Keep up your great work for FOX.

Rich
Dayton, New Jersey


To have ours die while others face possible democracy is very difficult to get the brain around. If successful, the world will see a different Middle East.

TD


Thanks for the blog Rick. You do a great job of reporting what you are seeing. How refreshing to just get the news and not opinons.

Nina
Missouri


Rick,

Your blogging adjacent with with your reports on air have really piqued my interest regarding updates in Iraq.

Good coverage! I saw your live reports on Studio B and The Fox Report with Shepard Smith. You're an awesome reporter.

Again, the blog is "the magic" that pulls the story altogether for me.

Thanks for your efforts.
Caroline


Enjoy the blogs. Be safe!

Jon
Rockland County, NY


Hey Rick!

I watch Fox News 24/7. You are my favorite reporter by far...my husband (MAJ Tim Walsh, US Army) is at Camp Liberty. Will you be going there any time soon?

Thanks!
Tara Walsh


Hey Rick, I always looked forward to your reports from the field on your first tour. My son is also serving his 2nd tour of duty in Iraq. How bout taking a road trip up north to showcase some of the hard work of 1st Armored Division. I hear Tal Afar is nice this time of year! Keep up the good work and good news.

Keep that snoz (and the rest of you) safe

Proud Military Mom
Sharon


Rick,

First time I read your article (on FoxNews.com).

Thanks for the interesting news from inside, with the troops!

Every once in a while, I hear noisy heavy twin-rotor military helo's going overhead, I said to my wife, "do you know what that sounds like?" "it's the sounds of freedom!" Keep up the good work!! (I live about 25 miles east of the Army's Ft. Carson)

Thanks,
Hal from Hanover (rural Colo.)

Rick,

Glad you are able to serve up some serious hoop-tea over there.

Go Jayhawks!!

Dan

Kansas

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