Reporters on the Job

LIGHTING A MATCH: The difficulties confronting the US-led coalition efforts to bring stability to Iraq were brought home for reporter Dan Murphy on Sunday, when he went to interview disgruntled soldiers from Saddam Hussein's regime (see story). First, he was speaking to one or two calm men. But the circle grew quickly to a hundred excited men, and then what seemed to be 200 angry and threatening men. Demands, threats, and pleas for help, all came at once, and all rising in pitch. In less than five minutes, the men started to move to attack the car Dan and his interpreter came in. A group of US soldiers intervened, and the crowd disbursed. "I don't doubt that there was incitement from Baathists in the crowd before the riot on Saturday,'' says Dan. "But I think my experience shows how much dry tinder is on the ground here. My mere presence came close to inciting another riot."

OUT OF GROZNY: The Monitor's Scott Peterson had been to Chechnya twice before, but a colleague warned: "Take great care - none of the rules apply in Chechnya."

The elections passed peacefully (see story). But Russian officials say that the government-organized tour that Scott participated in may have been targeted by a remote-controlled bomb. At least two groups of journalists - escorted by armored personnel carriers, police, and Russian troops - were brought in to observe polling stations in Grozny.

The foiled attack had been planned for Bogdan Khmelnitsky street in Grozny. "The group of journalists could alter their route, but on the last leg it was inevitable to pass along that street," Ilya Shabalkin, of the Russian regional headquarters, told the Russian Information Agency Novosti.

"We are grateful that nothing happened," Scott says. "But true or not, these are the dangers that Russian troops and Chechens working for the pro-Moscow administration face every day."

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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