That stray shelling was a little close for comfort. The hotel, and my heart, shook for a moment, the longest moment I have felt in a while. We hold up on the first floor of the Le Meridien waiting to hear word from the French military or the US Embassy who is closer to the Presidential Palace than we are.
Just five minutes ago, the eerie silence had over taken the hotel and we began to look a little more at ease. Pilots sit in one corner of the lobby while 25 or so other guests smoke in the lounge. The heavy curtains have been drawn in the case the glass breaks from shots.
The normally bustling river bank of Cameroon is empty. The streets have been desolate for two days. We sneak back and forth to the third floor to get a glimpse of anything, something, usually just black smoke coming from the Presidential Palace. Nobody really knows what is happening – not even those armed with humanitarian aid radios or guns.
Who will win this one? The rebels are fighting for power. This might be there last chance to grab anything before MINUCAT enters the country. As I said in my previous post, its ironic that these troops have delayed their landing in N’Djamena then travel to the Eastern region. They are the peacekeeping force that has the mandate to protect refugees, humanitarian aid workers and civilians if under attack. The very three groups currently caught in the crossfire.
I hear a heavy military vehicle for the first time in a few hours. Still no helicopters or airplanes. Information in French streams from the small room at the front of the hotel lobby which seems to be one of their headquarters. This information doesn’t seem to make to us, the =civilians.
Another one, a little to close for comfort. A military tank passes in front of the hotel followed by armed men on foot – Chadian? Rebels? For now I leave with these words and will make my way up to the third floor to set up the bgan, post this, and shoot an email out to our team back in the States. And of course to try to get a few shots of men, smoke, fire, anything that can give me more information.