Cafe Ridha Alwan in central Baghdad’s Karrada district was packed with customers, mostly intellectuals, when an explosion rang out May 2 followed by gun shots. Sirens of the ambulance and firefighter trucks were heard wailing in the streets near the blast area.
People rushed to leave the cafe for fear that another car would explode, as double-car bombings have been the signature attack of terrorist groups in Iraq who seem to be aiming at harming as many people as possible.
Ammar al-Shahbander and his colleague Emad al-Sharaa, who run the Iraqi Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), had left the coffee shop a few minutes before the bombing took place. Not long after, reports of Shahbander’s death circulated on social networking sites on the night of May 2, as well as reports about his colleague, who was injured and transported to the hospital, where he stayed more than three days.
Shahbander sustained serious injuries which took his life and Sharaa broke his leg and received shapnel injuries to his head.
The day following the explosion, Karim Wasfi, a cello player with the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra, started to play amidst the rubble left by the car bomb. He was enraged, sad and defiant and wanted to commemorate the spirit of the victims through music.
Standing nearby, a 20-year-old man said, “Wasfi will eventually give up on striding from explosion area to another, as the blasts are being executed at a high tempo.”