Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Getting blase about bombs

Yesterday around 4:30: Brigitte calls to ask me if I already heard about the bombs. "What bombs?", and she tells me that there were bombs in Dora, a northern suburb of Beirut. On previous occasions, we would both rush home and follow the news on TV, especially if it's almost 5 PM anyway. This time, however, we both had work to do, things to wrap up and basically decided that news about the bomb can wait.

And it's not that the bomb wasn't serious. As the Orient-Le Jour splashed on its front page today, after targeting politicians, journalists and Unifil, now the attention has shifted towards diplomats. Three people got killed and 20 wounded when a road side bomb exploded on the so-called Sea Side Road, which runs parallel to the highway between Beirut and Byblos. The most likely intention was to to hit a vehicle of the American embassy that was passing by. As a result, the goodbye party of ambassador Jeffrey Feltman, scheduled for today, has been canceled.

It seems that the bomb, that was detonated remotely, exploded a little bit too late as the car driving behind the USA vehicle was mostly damaged and two people inside it got killed, together with a passing motorist. No embassy employees were killed. People already spoke of a warning, but I reckon chances are this was a sloppy mistake. Terrorists are usually not that big on giving warnings, they tend to focus more on getting the message across.

What's strange is that according to the Daily Star, the car did not have diplomat license plates and was otherwise as plain as could be. Still, the first news items already mentioned that the car was tied to the American embassy. How could the journalists have known so soon? And how easy must it have been for the terrorists to find out? It makes you wonder about how well the embassy was taking security measures; or how difficult it is to effectively protect one's self.

Photo 1: The US car with regular license plates - courtesy of Harry's blog who was one of the first on the scene, check also his video of the aftermath