Monday, December 7, 2009




By Abdinasir Mohamed Guled

I was in the Hotel Shamo here Thursday morning to cover the graduation
of the second class of doctors, engineers and professors to leave
Benadir University -- an image of Somalia different from the typical
one, war.

After hours of tape-recording speeches, I felt thirsty and moved 10
steps toward the door.

Suddenly, the hall shook and I heard a PAW! sound from the front of
the ceremony, where most government officials and dignitaries were
sitting. I got down on the ground and looked back. Dozens of people
were on the ground under a huge cloud of smoke. Others were stampeding
to the exit for safety.

I looked to my right and saw one of my colleagues dead and bleeding. I
couldn't help him.

I saw the government officials' chairs empty and bloody, and many
people badly wounded. The ceremony hall became very dark, and seemed
like a slaughterhouse, for the blood flowing on the ground.

A young man rushed to pick up his older brother, who had graduated
that day, but he was already dead. The young man cried and cried. A
girl who looked like a student draped her girlfriend's purse around
her injured leg as she carried her to safety.

I tried to run forward but stampeding people pushed me aside, so I
walked carefully to avoid them. I thought they might kill me, since
everyone was terrified and couldn't restrain themselves.

I got out of the hall, leaving my recording equipment behind. Soldiers
started firing in the air to make their presence known. Other soldiers
were picking up victims.

One older woman, crying over her son, sat down alongside him. His
wounds were serious. She was talking to him, but his only answer was
his breathing.

I ran and ran. My phone kept ringing but I couldn't pick it up, I was
so terrified. People at the gate were amazed to see me. There was so
much blood on my clothes, they thought I had been harmed. When they
asked me what happened, all I got out was, "I can't talk."

I saw my neighbor, a mother, rushing to the hotel to find her two sons
who were graduating. She learned that both were dead.

It has been hours since the time of the blast, and I haven't been able
to eat because I keep seeing the image of what happened, of people,
hoping to be doctors to serve the country, sent to the grave.