Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Bombings

I'm not sure what I am supposed to feel.

Last night, three bombs went off at popular bars in Kampala. The attacks killed at least 65 people, including one American.

My roommate Peace, a lovely Ugandan woman who is in graduate school at the University of Washington, was at the Rugby club, a big outdoor space where hundreds gathered to watch the World Cup final. At halftime, I was about to leave the crowded bar where I was to go meet her, when I received a text message.

"Two bombs have gone off, get out of bars."

The rest of the night is a blur. As information trickled in and rumors swirled, I was left feeling a weird combination of lucky and helpless. No one knew what was going on, and we all relied on whispers.

I could have been in that bar. I could have died.

Having worked on national security issues at the U.S. Department of Justice, I feel as if I have gone from watching a scary movie to actually being thrown in it. It is a surreal sensation, and even know, I'm unable to keep from shaking. Thankfully, everyone I know here has survived, and for that I am grateful. But it is a stunningly unsettling notion to think that so much death and destruction happened so close to me.

Immediately, flashbacks to 9/11 came racing back. Many of my emotions are the same, some are different. Perhaps I will write more about this when I have had time to process this ordeal.

The morning did not bring respite; in many ways, it has been worse. The national morgue is at the hospital where I work. Everywhere, people are gathered around wailing victims, consoling them, hugging them. I am too confused to know what I feel.

Uganda is a beautiful country, with kind, warm, generous people. Last night, evil tore through my adopted home, lowering a dark, bloody cloud on what was a joyous, boisterous evening in a fantastic place. In the world we live in, terror can strike anywhere, anytime.

I am shaken. To those that lost their lives or know someone that did, all of our prayers are with you.

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