Photographers' Blog

Another ground zero

By Fredy Builes

It began as a normal summer day in cold Bogota, with bright sun lighting up the morning. I had just picked up one of my favorite lenses from a repair shop, and was carrying a camera and wide angle lens in a bag while heading for a local university which I have done photo assignments for. As I talked to Vicky, the head of the journalism school, all of a sudden a great explosion shook us. In her eyes I saw the same fear that I was feeling, as the deafening sound left us speechless. It was only instinct that carried me to the street.

I ran out of the university towards the place of the explosion like a bull being released into the ring. Ground zero was right on a nearby street in downtown Bogota, where attacks like this haven’t happened in a very long time. I walked through the strange atmosphere of shocked people, deafening noise and fear, to reach the epicenter. I was surrounded by terror, blood, screams, sobs, rumors of another bomb, and death exposed for all to see.

One woman tried to calm a man lying on the ground, as another appeared with blood on her face in a way that reminded me of Christ bleeding from the crown of thorns.

The body of an elderly man, the driver of the bus that was destroyed, was hanging from the bus window. With his head swaying like a pendulum almost touching the front tire, his blood and sweat dripping on the asphalt below, and his left hand hanging by just a thread of skin, he seemed dead, but he wasn’t.  Several men and women with their faces bathed in blood, stood frozen with shock, watching the minutes pass.

One elegantly dressed man with a bloodied face was surrounded by bodyguards with their 9 mm pistols drawn and ready. He was stupefied. I began to photograph him only to find out later that he was a former interior minister under the previous government, and that he was the target of the blast.

Soccer SWAT team

By Peter Andrews

Through my Polish police contacts, I learned that members of various SWAT teams and the border guards would hold a special training exercise in the town of Zamosc. The exercise was conducted as part of preparations by the Polish special forces leading up to the EURO 2012 soccer tournament, to be held in Poland and Ukraine this summer. This training event was to be observed by various representatives from different countries.

As I arrived at the military training ground, I realized that some of the instructors were my old friends whom I have known for as many as eighteen years. It helped me immensely to be accepted by people who were being trained. The forces were divided into three teams of SWAT and border guards being trained on different public transport vehicles, in various techniques of approaching a hijacked bus followed by mastering the techniques of entering and rescuing hostages from inside the vehicle.

Witnessing dozens of similar exercises I’m always amazed by the speed and agility with which these men can move. It also helps me understand how much time, effort and dedication they have to invest to be able to work with such precision.

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