UNICEF worker Gerida Birukila reflects on an attack on a humanitarian convoy in Borno state, northeast Nigeria.
I was tired, but feeling upbeat. Slightly high on the sugar rush from the dried mangoes a colleague had shared with me in the car – the first thing I had had time to eat all day – I was going over in my head all we had managed to achieve during our busy day in the beleaguered town of Bama.
An explosion suddenly filled the air with smoke and gunfire erupted, waves of bullets slamming into our car. Thud, thud, thud – bullets were hitting the window beside my head, the door I had been leaning against.
Our vehicle was armoured, resisting round after round, and although the windows shattered, they remained intact. I ducked, joining my colleague on the floor of the car as the intense gunfire continued. We held hands. And I prayed.
The gunfire shredded our tyres and damaged our engine, but our driver accelerated, struggling to keep the vehicle on the road and to get us away from the ambush as quickly as he could.
We passed a military vehicle that had been ahead of us and had engaged our attackers. Some of the soldiers we could clearly see were injured.