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Iraq: Soldiers kill 20 protesters

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    Two police chiefs shot dead in Iraq ... BAGHDAD, April 3: Gunmen killed a police chief in Baghdad on Saturday, the second to be shot dead in 24 hours and the
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 4, 2004
      Two police chiefs shot dead in Iraq
      BAGHDAD, April 3: Gunmen killed a police chief in Baghdad on
      Saturday, the second to be shot dead in 24 hours and the latest in a
      growing list of security officers killed by guerillas who target
      anyone linked to Iraq's occupiers.

      Police said the police chief of Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad, was shot
      after leaving his home in the capital. His car was riddled with
      bullets. On Friday night, the police chief in Kufa, further south,
      was shot dead along with a colleague.

      Guerillas fighting the occupation have increasingly targeted members
      of the US-trained fledgling Iraqi security forces. More Iraqi
      security officials have been killed in the past year than American

      The US-led authorities in Iraq have warned attacks are likely to
      increase ahead of the planned transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis on
      June 30. The US military says it has stepped up operations in
      reaction to the latest uptick in violence.

      Near Baquba, north of Baghdad, a bomb planted in a car by the
      roadside exploded next to a passing US military patrol. One Iraqi was
      injured in the blast. Witnesses said several US soldiers were wounded
      but there was no US confirmation.

      In Basra, protesters demanding jobs clashed with Iraqi police,
      lobbing stones and smashing windows in the centre of the southern
      port. Police said at least one officer was wounded.

      Southern Iraq, controlled by a British-led force has been relatively
      calm compared to the rest of the country. But a series of protests in
      recent weeks have spilled over into violence. On Thursday, one
      protester was killed in clashes with police.

      ROCKET HITS HOUSE: In the capital, two men were wounded when a rocket
      hit a Baghdad neighbourhood on Saturday morning. Parts of one home
      were completely burned out after the explosion. There was a pool of
      blood in the hallway, and smoke still rising from an armchair.

      Angry residents looking on blamed the attack on the Americans, who
      are increasingly blamed for everything in Iraq, as frustration grows
      at the unabated violence more than a year since the occupation of the

      That anti-Americanism was seen in its most extreme form on Wednesday,
      when townspeople in Falluja mutilated the bodies of four American
      contractors shot dead by guerrillas, burning and kicking their
      corpses for hours.

      Anyone seen as related to the occupiers has become a target for
      guerillas. Police officers, local politicians, foreigners and Iraqis
      working for international companies have been killed.

      A senior military official said on Saturday that intelligence
      officers were viewing footage of the gruesome acts to identify those
      reponsible and talk to witnesses.

      The US army has promised an overwhelming response, and says it would
      be better for the town to hand over the guilty without a fight.

      "We don't believe that those people represent the vast majority of
      the people in Falluja, nor that Fallujah is a metaphor for Iraq," the
      senior official said. "We are going to separate the enemy from the
      people and we are going to destroy them."

      In Baghdad, thousands of supporters of defiant Shia cleric Moqtada
      Sadr marched through the streets of northeast Baghdad, in a show of
      strength punctuated by anti-occupation rhetoric.-Reuters


      Occupation soldiers kill protesters in Iraq
      Sunday 04 April 2004, 15:30 Makka Time, 12:30 GMT

      Al-Sadr's supporters promised massive rallies on

      Spanish occupation soldiers have shot dead at least 20
      Iraqi demonstrators and wounded more than 100 others
      in protests supporting Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

      The toll is expected to rise, reported Aljazeera's
      correspondent Muhammad al-Sharif on Sunday.

      Some 15,000 of al-Sadr's supporters staged a peaceful
      protest on Sunday heading towards the Spanish
      headquarters in Najaf, reported al-Sharif.

      Spanish troops and helicopters opened fire randomly at
      the protesters, he added. But some witnesses said
      demonstrators threw stones at military vehicles.

      Occupation forces also fired at journalists at the
      scene, including Aljazeera's crew, injuring al-Sharif.

      Al-Sadr's office bureau has issued a statement calling
      on supporters to end protests and declare jihad to
      take up arms against occupation forces, reported

      Iraqi police fired shots at pro-al-Sadr demonstrations
      in central Baghdad, leaving at least two people
      injured, reported Aljazeera correspondent Abd al-Adhem
      Muhammad. Protesters were marching towards a police
      headquarters in Saadun Street.

      There have been daily protests for the past week over
      the occupation's suspension of the al-Hawza newspaper,
      a pro-al-Sadr publication which the US occupation
      authorities said was inciting violence.

      Mosques linked to al-Sadr had earlier called for a
      general strike. Al-Sadr is a fierce opponent of the
      occupation and US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council.
      His support is mainly among impoverished Iraqis living
      in al-Sadr city in Baghdad, formerly known as Saddam

      Green Zone

      US occupation authorities had feared the protests
      could turn violent and announced they were shutting
      the entrances to their sprawling headquarters, better
      known as the Green Zone from 5am to 12pm.

      "With the concurrence of Ambassador Bremer, travel
      outside the Green Zone from 0500 - 1200 hrs on Sunday
      4 April 04 will be prohibited due to large
      demonstrations at ALL Green Zone check points," the
      advisory read.

      "These demonstrations have a very high probability of
      turning violent."

      Bearing out the occupation's worries, Shia mosques
      around Baghdad called for al-Sadr's followers to turn
      out in force on Sunday.

      "Loyal people of Iraq, in protest of the detention of
      religious clerics by the occupation forces, the
      decision has been taken to general strike at all
      government institutions and schools, so we call on you
      to answer this call," the loudspeakers blared from

      "Mahdi army members should immediately head to Mosque
      Muhsin al-Hakim in Sadr City," in reference to
      militiamen in support of al-Sadr.

      Mosque attacked

      Meanwhile, a bomb exploded outside a small mosque in
      the town of Baquba, north of Baghdad, early on Sunday,
      destroying most of the building and wounding at least
      one person, witnesses said.

      A Reuters television cameraman at the scene said
      al-Rasul al-Adham mosque, predominantly attended by
      Shia Muslims, had collapsed from the force of the
      explosion, which went off after morning prayers when
      the building was mostly empty.

      It is not the first time a mosque has been attacked in
      the town.

      In January, five people were killed and more than 30
      wounded when a bomb exploded outside another
      Shia-dominated mosque in the centre of Baquba as
      Friday prayers were ending.

      The town, which lies about 65km north of Baghdad, is
      inhabited by Sunni and Shia Muslims and has seen
      regular unrest over the past year, with fighters
      opposing occupation, attacking US forces and Iraqi

      US Marines killed

      In related news, two US Marines were killed in
      separate attacks west of Baghdad, the US military said
      in a statement on Sunday.

      The army said one Marine was killed in action on
      Saturday and the other died on Sunday from wounds
      received in a separate engagement on Saturday.

      The military declined to give any further information
      on the incidents, citing security reasons.

      The area west of Baghdad, including the town of
      Falluja, is a hotbed of anti-occupation activity.
      Earlier this week, four US contractors driving through
      the town were killed and their corpses burnt and
      dragged through the streets by a crowd.

      The same day, five US soldiers were killed in the same
      area when a roadside bomb detonated under their
      armoured vehicle.


      Troops prepare for Fallujah battle

      FALLUJAH, Iraq -- At the edge of this hostile city,
      units of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force set up
      checkpoints and camps this weekend in preparation for
      an eventual fight.

      The U.S. military activity outside the city yesterday
      offered no sign that a strike on Fallujah is imminent.
      But as they geared for an eventual battle, some
      Marines said they were eager to avenge Wednesday's
      killings of four American security guards.

      "I've got a lot of hate inside me, but I try to put
      that aside," said Sgt. Eric Nordwig, 29, of Riverside,
      Calif. The time has come to "clean up the town," he
      said Friday evening.

      "Fallujah is a barrier on the highway to progress,"
      said Col. J.C. Coleman, chief of staff to the 1st
      Marine Expeditionary Force. "We're going to eliminate
      that barrier without damaging the highway."

      Many of Fallujah's estimated quarter-million people
      warned of further bloodshed if the Marines return. In
      an interview before Friday prayers, a senior Fallujah
      cleric made no apologies for the attack on the four
      Americans as they drove through the town Wednesday,
      but condemned the subsequent mutilation of corpses and
      dragging of the bodies through the streets.

      "The killing is legitimate," said Khalid Ahmed Salih,
      cleric at the Al-Badawi mosque. "But we do not accept
      the mutilation of the bodies. Islam orders us not to
      do that to a dog. No decent man will accept this."

      Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq a year ago, American
      troops have killed dozens of civilians in Fallujah,
      many in the course of firefights against guerrillas,
      but many others in murkier circumstances that have led
      people here to see the soldiers as unjust and brutal
      occupiers. Tensions between U.S. forces and Fallujah
      residents began even before the war's end. On April
      28, when a crowd of protesters confronted troops,
      shots broke out, and 13 people were killed amid heavy
      U.S. fire.

      In this city's traditional, tribal culture, revenge is
      often seen as a tool of justice. "It is inevitable
      that the sons of Fallujah will kill the Americans and
      mutilate their corpses," said Fallujah resident Fadhil
      Badrani. "Though mutilation is not allowed in Islam,
      the grudge and malice in the hearts of the people led
      them to do this because of the repeated American

      U.S. officials have pressed Fallujah's clerics and
      city officials to condemn the attacks and help catch
      those who took part. An appeal to citizens for help in
      the case has yielded a few tips, Marine officials

      Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, a U.S. spokesman, said the
      city could avoid a crackdown if it handed over the
      attackers. "The question -- Is there going to be a
      fight? -- is one you should ask the insurgents ... and
      the mayor," he said.




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