Zoriah: War Photographer Diaries: Suicide Bombing

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words and images by Zoriah

I want you, my audience, to see and to understand what others live through on a daily basis. I want you to see what the Iraqi civilians and foreign soldiers see. I want people who follow my photography to understand that although I am able to bring images of war to the world in a form of art, what actually goes on here is horror. I don’t want my message to be that war yields great photography; I want my message to be that war yields human misery and suffering.

This post and the images contained in the link below are extremely graphic. If you want to see for yourself what people here in Iraq live through, or what the realities of war actually are …please click this link to view the post. If you are offended by graphic images, then please do something to stop the events that facilitate them instead of reading this post and being offended by it.

If you would like to view this post, click HERE

You will not see this on your local news or in your local papers. You may see a small bit of text on Yahoo News or another online site, but you will see what you will see here and what you read here you will not read anywhere else. It is not what is considered major news, and even if it was, there is “compassion fatigue” regarding Iraq and “no one cares,” so say all of my editors at major publications.

This incident, which happened only a few hours ago, received two paragraphs on the Internet news, and then faded away. It was “only” thirty or forty people that lost their lives…. children, old men, civilians, police and military. For those of you who choose to read on, this is what it looks like, all across Iraq on a daily basis:

Once again, this post contains graphic images and text about the death of many people. I urge you to view it but if you are sensitive to such things you may want to return to the main page of the blog now. Thank you.

words and images by Zoriah

We are on a patrol in an outlying suburb, or slum area of Fallujah which has been home to many violent attacks recently. We are searching homes for weapons and information regarding Al Qaeda in Iraq when it comes over the radio “we have one killed in actions (KIA) and two wounded in action (WIA)…stand by.” The soldiers begin to talk amongst themselves when a commander runs in “lets move…NOW! LETS MOVE!!!!” We grab our gear, throwing on our body armor, Kevlar helmets, gloves, goggles and other proactive gear as we run out of the house.

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We are jogging down the street as the soldiers aim their weapons at moving cars, screaming for them to stop. I have nearly 31kg/70lbs of equipment strapped to my body and although I am in good physical shape I feel the heat burning my lungs every time I inhale. We see people running down the street in panic.

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The soldier who is running next to me glances onto the pavement at the same time as I do. There is an ear on the ground and about five feet away we see a chunk of scalp with hair on a palm sized piece of skull. We look at each other, realizing that we are walking into true madness…and that this is just the beginning.

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Turning the corner off the main street towards the entrance to the building we walk into a staging for the dead and watch as Iraqi’s carry the bodies and parts of bodies out of the doors in sheets, often slipping on the blood that is covering the tile stairs.

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When the body bags run out, bed sheets are used to cover and move the bodies.

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Another dirt parking lot houses growing number of bodies.

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We walk through the front door of the building and into nightmarish scene. The courtyard is filled with bodies and limbs. An elderly man is sitting dead in a plastic lawn chair directly in the center of the commotion as if asleep during an afternoon nap.

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There are US soldiers strewn around like limp dolls along with lifeless Iraqi bodies of all ages. People are screaming and crying running as if they have something important they have to do, only they can’t figure out what that important thing could possibly be. The air smells of burnt flesh and sweat is pouring off of my body. My lungs still burn from the run and I have to concentrate to see through the sweat coating my ballistic goggles and dust on my camera’s viewfinder.

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I continue shooting pictures as fast as I can, knowing the soldiers do not want me in the building photographing their dead friends and in case of a secondary blast, I knew that my time to document the scene would be extremely limited.

It seems like the building is packed with bodies and people are literally frantic removing the dead, as if their pace may bring some of them back.

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Looking around the building the walls are pocked with thousands of small, round holes from the ball bearings in the suicide belt. There is human flesh coated in dirt on almost every surface.

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I turn around and face the courtyard and notice an Iraqi soldier who was obviously in such a state of shock he could barely function.

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I aim my camera one more time to snap a shot of some of the dead American Marines. Before being told by one of the soldiers that they are under orders to remove me from the scene.

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They claim it is for my own safety and take me out to one of the armored vehicles. I watch out the window as US soldiers collect body parts from the street and place them in a tarp.

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After a total of not more than five or ten minutes with my camera out, my chances to take photos are gone. Whatever I was able to capture in that chaos will be the only documentation of this event.

No part of this story is unusual, which is quite sad. I just heard that the total dead today is just over 100 people in this area. Multiply that number by the number of witnesses, family members and friends and multiply that number by the number of days in a year, then by the number of years of war.

I think people underestimate the impact of war and I think that is why I am here with my camera, fingers crossed, hoping to capture images that speak truth and enlighten.

Poll

Which Photo Agency Is Hardest To Deal With? (Please use the comment section to address some of the issues you see.)
Getty
29%
Corbis
7%
Sipa
5%
Blackstar
4%
WireImage
6%
Panos
1%
Agency VU
2%
Lookat Photos
4%
VII
6%
Magnum
11%
Aurora
1%
Gamma
5%
WPN
5%
Zuma Press
8%
Polaris
5%
Total votes: 690