Saturday, April 16, 2005

I was with one of my friends on the high way yesterday when I saw huge plumes of smoke coming out of the Shorja area (Baghdad's main trading area) and we wondered if that smoke was because of an explosion. A few hours later we got the answer on the news "a huge fire in Shorja destroyed many stores. 50 fire-fighting teams were trying to control the spreading fire….".

The report also said something about owners of nearby shops and stores evacuating their places as the fire was expected to grow bigger and that the preliminary estimations o the damages are close to 100 m $.

The government in a 1st comment about the incident suggested that the fire was planned but when I heard that the fire originated from Al-Qadisiyah building I was more inclined to think that it was just an accident as that building hosts too many stores that deal with perfumes, cosmetics which are basically highly flammable materials. Actually the building sustained a similar accident a few years ago.

If you happen to walk through this building you will see that a fire is logically inevitable; there are hundreds of stores and small shops, all of which deal with flammable materials and electrical connections for small generators are just a big mess. Add to this the hot weather of Baghdad's summer that came earlier this year.
So with the warnings you read on every fragrance container "keep in a cool place" you begin to believe that only some miracle is protecting this place from blowing up!

The tragedy in the story is that the owners of these stores have no insurance on their goods as insurance companies have suspended their business in Iraq long time ago except for one or two companies that have very limited activities.

However, it is still possible that some terror cells were behind this incident and that-if proved true-would mark the appearance of a new tactic of terror that targets softer targets. Maybe such attacks that can cause more economic damage than blowing up an oil pipeline but people will not stop working because of that and at the end it will only leave the terrorists with more enemies to hide from.

Here's a link for the incident in Arabic.

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