Reporter’s diary: Assault on Gori

Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher reports from the Georgian town as it comes under attack.

 The town of Gori has come under sustained bombardment in recent days [EPA]

I watch from the edge of the town as Russian planes, too high to see, circle the town and drop their bombs.  From my vantage point I can see them hitting the centre as well as the outskirts of the town.
As the bombardment continues, vehciles race away from the area.  In the distance , a family with no transport desperately try to hitch a lift away from danger. 

People stop near us, the worried looks clear on the faces, the nervous gestures and clear give away of the trauma they’ve been through and still carry now.  All agree it’s to dangerous to go back.

The bombardment suggests Russian troops have not taken up permanent positions in the town, as they would be close to any attack.

Then just as the danger appears to have past, there’s another loud crack as the bombs fall once more.  The target – a hill on the north side of Gori.

At the very edge of our camera’s zoom, several kilometres away, it just possible to make out Georgian army positions – and slightly above them – a huge crater still smoking, left by the bombing. 

From this distance we can tell if those in the trucks are alive or dead.

Now fires are raging on the hill, as the cornfields burn.

On the edge of Gori, there’s a burnt-out tank and two army trucks which have crashed head on, the remanants of Monday’s panicked retreat by the Georgian army.

Georgian defences

As we drove from Tblisi to the edge of Gori there were few signs during the 60km journey of any Georgian defences.

It was in marked contrast to the scenes on Monday night – when soldiers manned checkpoints on the edge of the capital. Hundreds of them stood prepared, wondering if the Russians were coming.

Huge queues formed at petrol stations, people panic buying as worries mounted about how long supplies would last.

Shops stayed open until the early hours of the morning to allow people to stock up on essentials like water and bread.

This was a city in fear, fuelled by rumour. By the morning things seemed back to normal, the fear didn’t seem so great, the threat not so immediate.

Source : Al Jazeera


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