On the morning of January 27, 2005, I stood in a local government building in Baqubah, north-central Iraq, my camera at the ready, waiting for a U.S. Army-led amnesty event to kick off. The Army had asked local residents to bring in any weapons, no questions asked. Some very nervous Iraqi officials smoked cigarettes on a row of folding chairs. David Pratt, an experienced war correspondent for the Sunday Herald newspaper, commented on the potential risk in the Americans advertising their presence in one of the bloodiest cities in all of Iraq.
There was an explosion. Windows shattered. Iraqis dove for cover. American troops raced to their Humvees parked outside. Gunfire echoed off alleyways. “Here we go,” Pratt said. I jumped into a Humvee and we sped out onto the street … and into a Hellish scene. A suicide bomber in a compact car had blown himself up in traffic. Cars were shattered. Cops, soldiers and reporters swarmed. Iraqi army troops fired their weapons into the air. There were body parts on the ground (pictured above being collected by soldiers) and streaks of blood leading to nearby buildings.
“Welcome to Baqubah,” a soldier said, grinning. In the chaos, it wasn’t clear who had attacked whom and who had been hurt. Now, thanks to Wikileaks’ recent dump of thousands of classified U.S. Iraq-war records, I know a little bit more.