Daring to inform

That evening my assignment was to report about a concert of sacred music at the Cathedral, and I was wearing the new navy blue skirt and the blue jacket I had bought with my first salary and heeled shoes. Not my usual attire, which was more casual.

I took a taxi to go to the cathedral with enough time to have a good site ready to listen to the local orchestra an choir perform the Requiem by Mozart, humming to myself the beautiful lacrimosa when I stopped abruptly at the sight of a gun. Just when we were passing by the side of the governor’s palace, a car passed us very fast so close that my driver had to step on the brake.

The copilot of the car had a gun pointing to the front. I looked at the palace and saw the governor at the gates surrounded by bodyguards looking attentively to the front. Something strange was happening. I told the driver to stop next to a phone cabin (it was long time ago, before the cell phones era) to call my newsroom. I made some questions to the people in the street, and they told me that it had occurred a shooting in the middle of the street between a couple who were walking towards the bus stop and and two men who arrived in a car.

I called my boss from the cabin telling I suspected there was an antiterrorist operation underway, because there were years when the terrorists were very actives in my city. He told me to stay there to see how things would develop and that he would send more experienced journalists to help me.

I went to the Governor’s palace and I remember that the chaos was so big that nobody stopped me until I almost reached his office. Then a Civil Guard asked me what was I doing there. I Asked him what was happening. And he told me : We got them! Those bastards terrorists, We got the command! I went with the news to the cabin. That only could mean they had caught the terrorist command that had terrorized the last years our community.

More journalists began to arrive, and everybody was asking me about the news. Suddenly one of them said: the special forces are in Sanguesa Street! We went running and we found the street occupied by the special forces of the Civil Guard. It looked as a war zone. The guards dispersed the bystanders and let us, the journalists to watch from two sites from where we could see a closed abandoned store.

When I arrived I saw how the special forces opened the blinds with an explosive and they stormed the store. We heard bangs and saw lights going on and off. When we were thinking that it was going to be a frustrated search, the agents began to look for lights. Suddenly some agents in plain clothes left in a hurry in an old car and minutes later came back bringing a suspect cuffed. A bearded man in his forties, with similar clothes than the agents. They entered the store. They had found something. It was getting late but the wait was going to be worth it.

The chief of the investigation went to the other group of journalists and told something to them, then he approached my group followed by my photographer. Suddenly I heard : Who wants to see what’s going on inside? I thought: If I lose this news, I’ll lose my job. So I immediately jumped from the second row screaming: me! me! I thought that we were going to fight to enter the site of the search, but I saw in surprise that nobody else wanted to enter. They were scared undecided! My photographer was the only one who did the same than I in the other group of journalists.

So there we went, George and I. When we entered the store the agents asked for our names. I knew one of the men inside was the suspect, a terrorist, so I didn’t say my name aloud. I wrote it down for them. We went with them to the cellar of the store where the agents had discovered a false wall with a sink in an extreme with a little metallic door beneath attached to the wall. The door had a cable in one corner. The special forces and the agents thought that the little door was the access to a hiding place and they were afraid that the cable could be a booby trap.

They were questioning to the suspect about how to open the door. He began telling that he didn’t know a word about the cellar. Finally he admitted he knew how to open the door and he did it. It had an hydraulic system and it was impossible to open if you didn’t know the secret system. The tension was high because nobody knew if there were more terrorist inside the hiding place or not. A volunteer had to enter head first to check it. Fortunately there was nobody inside. So there were no more shootings.

In the cellar, the terrorist began to threaten us to death till the agents made him shut up. I entered the hiding place and we discovered a place ready to keep a person kidnaped and a big arsenal of weapons. The place was very narrow and small. The terrorists had prepared eight ticking bombs and stored rocket propellers, rockets, explosives, and many other weapons and munitions.

We went out of that horrible place almost at midnight. In the newsroom everybody were waiting for us. We had the best story of the day. Here they come!, we heard when I entered the room I had my typewriter ready and my boss waiting to edit each sheet I was going to write. We had the exclusive with the story and the photos of the fall of the terrorist command who had killed 18 people and had attempted against my boss several years before.


Author: Olga Brajnović

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