Friday, February 18, 2005

A diary of the assassination of Rafic Hariri -Part two-


It was agonizing!

From the moment we heard the explosion, time seemed to inch slowly forward. Information trickled gradually. First we leaned that the explosion occurred on the seafront, close to the prestigious Phoenicia hotel. A few moments later a rumor flew that the target was the HSBC branch –which was indeed close to the place of the explosion-

The local TV networks started showing the first images from the explosion’s site. It was a war zone. Debris littered the street. Several cars were ablaze. Corpses were scattered around the place. However no word on who or what was the target.

An image will forever stay engraved in my mind. A poor man –who latter was identified as a paramedic, who accompanied Mr. Hariri’s motorcade- was being burned alive. He was still in the car, a big blue suburban ablaze and he burned. Flames engulfed his head, his arms. It was horrible; he weakly moved his hands, calling for help perhaps. And he burned and burned…

Somehow that poor man pushed himself half out of the still burning car, while a bystander rushed to his side screaming “get me water, get me water!” Water never came. The bystander got his jacket off and started dosing the burning man. Later, the paramedic was transported to the hospital where he died a couple of days later.

The images never stopped, bodies and severed limbs. And after 20 minutes we got a call. Hariri’s motorcade was passing when the blast went off.

I am certain now that when my colleague spoke those words, deep down I knew Hariri was dead. But man is always hopeful, clinging to hope against reasons and reality. But slowly more news came in. The official announce that Hariri’s motorcade was the target of the blast. Then the name of one of the dead was announced. It was “ Abou Tarek” one of Hariri’s oldest and most trusted bodyguards. Who seldom left his side. The horrible truth crept closer.

Everything else is a blur. Till the time the death was announced. Hariri was dead. Lebanon has just had its own 11th September.

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