Reacting to the Panjwai Shooting

Forty eight hours have passed since I first read about the Panjwai shootings.  The facts are slow to surface; it is likely they may never come to light.  It would appear that one Soldier acted alone.  Then, however, I read that a reporter caught up with Villagers who mentioned seeing multiple Soldiers enter homes in the middle of the night.  It would appear that the victims were shot at close range.  Then I read that some of the victims appeared to be burned, and stabbed.  Regardless of ‘how’ and ‘who’ there are 16 victims, there is U.S. involvement, there are mourning families and an angry nation, if not two.

To buoy myself against the constant stream of information coming through Twitter I am relying on the New York Times as my source.  Surprisingly to me (an inexperience Twitter-user) much of what I read in Tweets or through links provided in Tweets ends up in the Times a little while later.

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The Minnesota National Guard unit I'm embedding with is situated in Zabul Province, just to the northeast of Kandahar Province. Panjwai District (the site of the shootings) is in west-central part of Kandahar Province.

Today a colleague at Twin Cities Public Television came into my cube and said, ‘cripes Heikkila, at every turn this trip is becoming more difficult’.  He was referring to both the Panjwai shootings and the Qu’ran burnings of a couple of weeks ago.  I believe my reply was, ‘No sh*t’.  In 24 days I’ll be leaving for Afghanistan.  My travels will bring me to and through the Kandahar Airport.  Panjwai District isn’t far from the Kandahar Airport.

By all accounts the Kandahar Airport is going to be pretty chaotic.  I’ve had it described to me as a, ‘crowded Soviet-era high school gymnasium.’  I’ve been warned about pushy porters.  I imagine it will be a shock to the senses.  The good news is that I will be traveling light enough so as not to need to check baggage.  If I don’t check baggage I won’t need to stand around waiting at any sort of a baggage claim point.  I’ll disembark, get through customs, then meet up with the people I plan on meeting. From that point, though still in a war zone, I will not be traveling as a solo American.

Today I’m feeling some trepidation about this experience; yet, I ultimately know my drive into and home from work put me in greater danger than this trip will. However, it feels as though I’m preparing to run the gauntlet.

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