With Government Minders In Tow, A Trip To Al Khoms, Libya
In an effort to show journalists in Tripoli that the Libyan government is still in control of its territory, officials organized trips for separate groups of foreign press. They took one group to the east of Tripoli, the other to the west and one to the south.
NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson was in the group that headed east to the city of al Khoms, some 80 miles east of Tripoli. Soraya reports that their media bus was escorted by police across the check points and she saw no traffic. What she did see were cars lined up along the side of the road, waiting to get gas.
Soraya said she her government minders never took their eyes off her, they were doing the translating and in some cases recording conversations she was having with Libyans. So, as you can expect, people weren't free to be honest.
Still, here's what they told her:
Soraya spoke to a government worker, a tour guide and three shop keepers and all of them said there had been no fighting in Al Khoms and the shopkeepers complained that they had no customers, no gas for their cars and that prices on things like milk had doubled or tripled in price.
Soraya said that despite the presence of the minders, there was "little doubt all the people we talked to ... were pretty worried about their future." Soraya said they want the bombing to stop, "they say they want some kind of diplomatic resolution to this crisis. They want life to go back to normal."
Tune into you All Things Considered on your local member station to listen to the full conversation. We'll post the as-aired version, here, a little later.