The tin roofs grew hot with the day, so weapons merchants fortified their dripping faces with bundles of fresh qat, chewing thoughtfully, making them more ready to absorb the daily horrors.

The gun merchants got twitchy when it seemed that I was looking only, not buying. Behind the stalls were stacked artillery rounds and mortars of all sizes like a selection of candy. There were oily boxes of screw-in detonators, banks of rocket-propelled grenades and launchers-some still packed in their factory grease-and long, slender missiles for big spenders. There was enough firepower to repel an invasion, and, in fact, that is exactly what it would be used for soon enough in 1993, to force American “peacekeeping” troops to go home.