Iraq: Soldiers kill 20 protesters
- 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
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
"These demonstrations have a very high probability of
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.
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
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
Troops prepare for Fallujah battle
COMBINED NEWS SERVICES
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
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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