Yesterday was particularly stressful and worrying.
My family has a house in the Shaa'b area that got bombed. Since it's unsafe to leave property unattended in Iraq, we have contracted with a guard to live there. He also happens to be a distant relative.
I got through to him after many tries last night. The bombing of the market was only a few blocks away. He sounded terrified and very angry. This is a residential neighborhood that's out of the way -- away from the center of the city. No one would've ever thought it would be a target. I asked him if he thought there was anything there to target, and he answered, "Absolutely not -- nothing."
He said they heard loud sounds that "got my young children crying right away ... we couldn't get them to stop." People rushed outside and couldn't believe the destruction and chaos that ensued.
"We know 17 so far died," he said. "But there were many injured as well. Cars were burning, people were gathering and crying." I asked him why people were out in the first place, and he said, "Things were going back to normal, the stores and bakeries are open. We can't be in the house forever."
Above the stores and shops is a residential apartment complex that was destroyed.
He said the TV was back on after going off for three hours. There's regular programming and war coverage.
He knew about what was going on in the south. He hasn't been going to work and the kids aren't going to school. He said they had food, water, electricity -- everything was available.
He also said that people are very angry. They weren't buying the story that we Americans were hearing that Iraq might have done this [the market bombing]. He also was really angry with the Americans.
"Why are they doing this?" he asked me. "Don't they have any conscience?"