The Shooting War

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The Day After: One of Iraq's iconic scenes of conflict, this was the Canal Hotel 24 hours after the U.N. headquarters there had been eviscerated, when only a man and a machine were left combing through the rubble. "I don't think they found anybody," says Sinclair. A day earlier, she had arrived on the scene soon after the deadly explosion to find chaos. She remembers it now as "the first major signifier that things were turning for the worse."



Fire Station: Saman, a Spanish photographer, has traveled to Iraq a dozen times on assignment for the New York Times and other newspapers. In the days immediately following the U.S. invasion, Saman came upon a burning gas station, engulfed in black fumes. "People must have gone in, lit a fire, and it just exploded." There he found an American soldier standing on a vehicle and "just yelling at people to get back, trying to return the place to some order.… No one was really in charge," he recalls.



Life Goes On: Saman captured this indelible image of man and war, coexisting, during a walk through Baghdad's impoverished and violent al-Waziriya neighborhood. The smoldering remains of U.S. military Humvees that had been attacked by insurgents threw up dark clouds against the sky. And then a man in a clean suit ambled by carrying a briefcase. "This guy walked past, and I thought it was a real scene of how life just goes on in Baghdad," he says. "Even in war zones, people have to manage their daily lives."


Bentiu, Sudan

Modern Relics: Torfinn spent the last decade as an up-close witness to Africa's wars. "I believe it's important to really get to know one region -- if you're only passing through, on your way between Haiti and Afghanistan, there's no time to really understand what the story is about," he says. Sudanese rebel soldiers brought him to this skull-strewn field near Bentiu, the aspiring capital of an independent South Sudan, to show him what 20 years of civil war had brought. "The skulls here are fairly recent," he says. "In this climate, so hot and humid, a human body very quickly goes back to the soil."


Ngety, Congo

One of Many: British photographer Bleasdale moved to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1998 "to document the impact of conflict on communities." Tragically, he has found much material. This image comes from the funeral of Mapenzi Boloma, a 10-month-old baby girl who died of diarrhea in the village of Ngety, which became overwhelmed by refugees when a regional warlord drove them from their homes to secure gold-mining sites. "There were no drugs to treat the children," he remembers. "That is what killed her."


Tyre, Lebanon

Things He Carried: Dutch photojournalist Oerlemans took this photograph while reporting from Tyre, in southern Lebanon, during the 34-day summer war with Israel. "I was just returning from shooting the arrival of some humanitarian aid to the besieged town," he recalls, "when, right in front of me, a five- or six-story building went up in smoke." Oerlemans ran toward the wrecked building, where, he says, "I witnessed the first casualties being carried away from the scene. In the smoldering ruins, dazed people were stumbling around, some trying to get themselves together, others frantically pulling others from underneath the rubble." An air alarm went off, indicating the Israeli bombers might return. "Everyone fled," Oerlemans says. But this boy remained, "stoically" wandering through the smoke. "We never spoke," the photographer recalls. "I'm not sure why he was picking up those books."


Gaza Strip, Palestine

Reorienting: Not long after the end of Israel's bombing campaign against Hamas in Gaza, Saman found himself wandering through Beit Lahiya, a Palestinian neighborhood that had been barraged by Israeli warplanes. Residents were just beginning to venture outside. The boy photographed here was, Saman recounts, "standing on rubble, trying to find a good vantage point to … survey the damage to his neighborhood."



Upon Reflection: Dworzak shot this photo of a soldier in silhouette in the Iraqi village of Avgani, near the Syrian border. Iraq National Guard troops and police officers were patrolling the town in advance of national elections when insurgents started firing on them, pinning them down in a two-hour firefight in the neighborhood they had just visited. The spray-painted graffiti on this house reads, "For sale."



No Exit: During the siege of Basra, Czech photographer Kratochvil watched as citizens of the city were held hostage, pinned between Saddam Hussein's fedayeen paramilitary and the invading Western forces. "People just started fleeing the city. I was standing there and saw them coming, single file, hundreds of people," he says. The line of refugees came under strafing crossfire from both sides, but continued to run. "One came to me and he asked, 'Where is the refugee camp?' And I told him, 'There is none.' And so a few turned and walked back."




Afterward: Lowe remembers well sneaking into Chechnya from Ingushetia to take this haunting photo of war in Russia, huddled in the back of a minibus "full of old Chechen women and their animals." Driving along a road from the capital city of Grozny to the surrounding villages, he came across an abandoned bullet-riddled car. Nearby, this is what remained after bodies had been dragged away. "To me, this is not in itself a picture of violence, but speaks of what violence means," Lowe says. "You can see traces of each action: first the fresh snow, then a body lain down, and the blood seeps into the snow. Then people running around in chaos."

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