Reporters on the Job

Shelling at Karbala: In the days before the celebrations of the Shiite holy day of Ashoura, there were reports that there might be car bombings or a suicide bomber. So reporter Nicholas Blanford was surprised when he heard shelling Tuesday in Karbala, Iraq, (page 1). "I was on the edge of town when the explosions happened," he says. "I heard very clearly the sound of outgoing large-caliber artillery shells - mortars as it turned out - being fired from a position not that far away, possibly from inside a sprawling palm tree grove."

Later, Nick moved closer to the Imam Hussein shrine where most of the fatalities occurred. "It was very tense and uncomfortable outside the shrine. Foreigners were not welcome. The armed Shiite militiamen threatened to smash my camera if I took any photographs and didn't want me to talk to anyone. There were no other foreigners around me at that time, and it was an uncomfortable feeling to be on the receiving end of so much anger."

Tropical Novel: The scene was something out of a Graham Greene novel, says Monitor staff writer Howard LaFranchi. "There were all of Haiti's prominent rebel leaders, among the palm fronds, whitewashed walls, and pools of a colonial-style hotel, flashing smiles and giving hugs - all the while holding their guns aloft," he says. "Among them were throngs of adoring Haitians, pressing for a chance to rub shoulders with the men of the hour (this page).

"When leader Guy Philippe stepped into a hotel restaurant to sit down to lunch Monday, you might have thought his security detail would keep the mostly foreign media at a distance. But Philippe smiled and waved for the cameras as he talked quietly with a confrere. A savvy leader with a clear knowledge of the media world, Philippe must know Haiti will not be a focus of the world for long, and his chance at the cameras will wane. With the big US TV networks paying $20,000 a day to keep crews here, Philippe and his men are getting their face time with the world while they can."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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