Reporters on the Job

Somalia Security : Traveling anywhere in Somalia means hiring security – usually a couple of men armed with AK-47s, sometimes more. Correspondent Rob Crilly's trip this past weekend was no exception.

He drove to Mogadishu along with Somalian government officials from their stronghold in the city of Baidoa, about six hours away, and soon discovered that much of the city lay way beyond their control.

"I wanted to stay at the Peace Hotel, but it lies in a corner of Mogadishu that was one of the most ardent supporters of the Islamic courts.

"My two security men – the prime minister's bodyguards I'd been allowed to hire away – said there was no problem, but they would have to change out of their military uniforms first. They jumped out of our SUV, disappeared around a corner and came back dressed in checked shirts and jeans. It was the only way they could get safely through most of the city," he says.

New Year's Eve in Bangkok: It was just after 7 p.m. New Year's Eve, and Simon Montlake and his wife were getting ready to go out to begin a night of celebrations when his phone rang: Thai TV was reporting several bomb blasts.

"My dilemma was twofold," says Simon, who did in fact write an article. "Would I miss the story if I went out now, and was it safe to go to the nightclub district? My first thought was that the bombers had sent their message. But my wife sagely observed that to sabotage New Year's Eve meant disrupting the midnight countdown."

They joined friends in a luxury hotel suite – but Simon kept an eye on the TV and on his text-message in-box.

Sadly, his wife was right: the next bombs exploded by a plaza where tens of thousands had gathered to cheer in the new year. Fortunately, most had already dispersed on the advice of the authorities, but eight foreigners were injured.

David Clark Scott
World editor

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