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March 8, 2011

News Article:

By: Jarett Henshaw | WSLS 10

Published: March 08, 2011

Noel Boaz says he's happy to be back safely in his office at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville.

Until two weeks ago, he'd been living in Libya for the last year heading up international fossil research, and had to find a way out when the violence started.

"I heard helicopters, and then I heard very high caliber guns being fired on unarmed demonstrators. That was the turning point for me, because I realized this is not crowd control. This is genocide," said Boaz.

He took some of his own pictures of a rebel with an automatic rifle, and kids standing on a government tank that was overtaken protesters.

Dr. Boaz says he's been in some tense situations before doing research in other countries, but he says this was definitely the worst he's ever seen.

"It's scary. I've been in some tight situations before in the Congo, and I spent a year in Bosnia. This was a lot closer than anything I've been in. This was a lot more shooting," said Boaz.

He also tried to move one of his $50,000 research vehicles to a secured facility.

"I did brave the barricades to get my vehicle to our garage, only to have our garage burned and looted that evening," said Libya.

Boaz eventually escaped Libya by driving to Egypt, then flying home. Despite everything that's happened, Boaz says he plans on returning, under one condition.

"It really changed our attitude about the Gadhafi government. We really won't do our scientific project until that government's changed," said Boaz.

His archeological research is very important, and Boaz says he'll reassess the situation in Libya in another month.


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