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Story Publication logo March 11, 2010

Iraq: The Hurt Locker 2


Iraq: Reporting the 2010 Parliamentary Elections

The Iraqi elections of 2010 played out against a backdrop of reduced but continuing violence...

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Print and Image by Dimiter Kenarov, for the Pulitzer Center
Baghdad, Iraq

Three days after Iraqis voted amid a barrage of bombs and Hollywood awarded Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker six Academy Awards (including Best Picture and Best Director), I'm at Baghdad's General Counter Explosive Directorate, the center of Iraq's Explosive Ordnance Disposal programs. It is here that Iraq's government, with the help of American advisors, trains the EOD specialists who eventually will replace the kinds of teams featured in Bigelow's film. In one of the classrooms, decorated with bombs of various shapes and sizes, lined up like snakes in jars of formaldehyde, thirty-six students are quietly sitting behind their desks, listening to the instructor. "You must apply yourself. You will not cut corners. If you don't pass, you'll not stay in the class. Study hard, you must do well. I will say this one time and one time only: Think Safety. Welcome aboard one of the hardest courses in the world: EOD." There's no pep rally response. The Iraqis sit in respectful silence. The only sound is the faint ticking of wristwatches...

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