Today, I drove out on the Tripoli road from Benghazi the few miles to where French ground attack planes had taken out Colonel Gaddafi’s armoured column which hours earlier had sent a frightening cascade of artillery into the heart of the city. There wasn’t much left.
Tanks had been opened up like sardine cans. Nothing was left but empty shells. Gun turrets had been sent flying under the aerial assault, catapulted in once case some 30 yards. All around, soot covered vehicles were smouldering. In the distance, dozens of plumes of acrid black smoke marked other targetted targets.
One – I’ve no idea what sort of vehicle it was beneath the flames – suddenly crackled and flared, spitting fire into the air. It fizzed and popped. Then it exploded in a huge white ball of heat. Around us we could hear the whine and whizz of shrapnel, as munitions ignited and burned.
At that point, I don’t mind telling you, I ran. As did the souvenir hunters and sightseers who had driven up the road to see the site of the French air strike.
I can just about cope with war: two sides fighting each other, some sort of order despite the madness. What terrifies me is chaos: the crowds of people panicking, cars getting in each others’ way, too many excited people with guns.
Yesterday, I watched a militiaman firing his light machine gun in the air. He lost control and almost took out a car at his checkpoint. Not cool.