From the Feb. 8, 2010 issue of TIME Magazine
As my driver and I left a press conference at the Iraq Oil Ministry and headed back to the Hamra Hotel compound, where I live and work, we saw a dusty cloud rising to our right. "Perhaps a mortar into the Green Zone," he suggested. We had almost arrived when the second bomb exploded. The gunshots started soon after. My driver slammed the car into reverse and wove around cars, people and concrete barriers, right up to the hotel entrance. We ran inside, joining a handful of people sheltering from the gunfire. The last bomb brought down much of the ceiling all around us. As the dust swelled we shuffled into the basement; a girl, maybe 5 years old, bloodied in the face and moaning, was carried down the stairs. Outside, halfway between the checkpoint and the hotel, a crater 6 ft. (1.8 m) deep smoldered. All told, 37 people were killed and close to 100 wounded in the attacks, which came amid rancorous sectarian debate over Iraq's looming elections. Looking back, I'm gripped by the scent of oranges cutting through the smell of charred vehicles and flesh: tart, from fruit not yet ripe, shaken early from the trees by the blast and scattered amid the debris.