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Human Rights Group Targets U.S. Military Concerning Iraqi Civilian Casualties

By E.A. Torriero, Chicago Tribune
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
1,065 words
21 October 2003
Chicago Tribune (KRTBN)
English
Copyright (C) 2003 KRTBN Knight Ridder Tribune Business News

Oct. 21--BAGHDAD--For more than two months, Naiel Saleem Abdul Kareem could not confirm whether his sister was dead or alive, despite witness accounts that she had been shot by American soldiers in one of the summer's most publicized killings of Iraqi civilians.

Then in late September, U.S. authorities called Kareem and told him to come to the morgue to retrieve the bullet-riddled body of the 74-year-old woman.

"Why did I have to wait so long?" Kareem asked. "I think [the U.S. military] postponed giving her to me to calm down the situation. They don't want people to know how they killed her."

Klemantine Saleem's death was one of 20 cases of civilian casualties examined in a report to be released Tuesday by Human Rights Watch, the most comprehensive such probe so far compiled by a governmental or non-governmental agency.

The report, which examined deaths that occurred since President Bush declared the end of major combat in Iraq on May 1, charges that the U.S.-led military coalition is often reluctant to investigate civilian deaths, is not careful enough to prevent them and has failed to provide an accounting of the casualties. The human rights group alleges that many of the deaths were caused by overly aggressive U.S. military actions.

Despite being provided a copy of the 56-page report before publication, the U.S.-led coalition said through its military spokesman that it has not read it and would not comment on its contents.

Human Rights Watch alleges that a detailed review of the cases "reveals a pattern by U.S. forces of over-aggressive tactics, indiscriminate shooting in residential areas and a quick reliance on lethal force."

Very few civilian deaths by U.S. fire are investigated, Human Rights Watch says, and no one has an accurate count of civilian casualties. The U.S.-led coalition counters that the figures are "unknowable."

In Baghdad alone, the report estimates that there have been at least 94 Iraqi deaths under "questionable legal circumstances that merit investigation." Hundreds of innocent Iraqis have been killed at checkpoints or caught in the crossfire in incidents outside the capital, human rights advocates say.

"Just the fact that the U.S. military doesn't track civilian deaths indicates that they do not seem to care," said Joe Stork, acting executive director of the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch.

"There needs to be a process of inquiry and a self-examination by the U.S. military," Stork said. "That is not happening."

As coalition forces came under increasing fire this summer from anti-American insurgents, the dangers for civilians increased when soldiers went on the defensive, the report notes.

Underscoring the continuing threats to Americans, a U.S. soldier was killed Monday and five others wounded when an army patrol was ambushed outside Fallujah, where anti-coalition sentiments run high. It was the 104th U.S. death since major fighting was declared over May 1.

Human Rights Watch acknowledges that in some cases of civilian deaths, U.S. forces faced "a real threat," but the group said that the response was "sometimes disproportionate."

U.S. Lt. Col. George Krivo said the coalition welcomes outside review and officials regret the deaths of civilians, but he denied the allegation that excessive force has been used.

"We use appropriate force given the situation on the ground at the time, and we use that force in order to protect innocent Iraqi lives and coalition lives," said Krivo, the coalition military spokesman.

When charges are raised against U.S. soldiers, the military looks into them, Krivo said.

"We take investigations very seriously, and any time there is the possibility that a soldier has done something inappropriate or unlawful, we do take the proper action," he said.

The Human Rights Watch report, however, says that as of Oct. 1 the U.S. military has announced the completion of only five investigations since May 1.

In four incidents, the military found that soldiers acted "within the rules of engagement," the report said. In a fifth case, a helicopter pilot and commander face disciplinary action after removing a banner from a prominent Shiite building.

"Iraq is clearly a hostile environment for U.S. troops," Stork said. "But that does not absolve the military from its legal obligations to use force in a restrained and proportionate manner -- and only when necessary."

The report comes as human rights lawyers and advocates are seeking compensation for Iraqi lives lost. Iraq's U.S.-appointed leadership is frustrated as well by the lack of independent review.

"The Iraqi courts are not allowed to judge American soldiers," said Iraqi Judge Dara Noor Eddine, a member of the nation's Governing Council. "We would like to have all incidents investigated ... by the appropriate [Iraqi] authorities."

On the night of July 27, an elite squad of U.S. Special Forces hunting for Saddam Hussein moved into an upscale neighborhood after getting reports that the deposed dictator was in a sheik's house.

After setting up roadblocks, the soldiers fired upon several cars whose drivers, witnesses said, apparently become confused and did not realize they were being ordered to stop.

Elderly resident Saleem, who was heading out to church, died later on a U.S. military operating table. Despite having identification with her, Saleem's body remained unclaimed in a morgue for two months and a day, her family said.

The U.S. military expressed regret for the civilian deaths but stressed that the soldiers acted in self-defense.

Mohammed Khazal, whose 14-year-old nephew died in a back seat of a Chevrolet Malibu, received $2,500 for burial costs. His family is one of a few to have received U.S. compensation.

Khazal said he plans to file a lawsuit in the United States seeking $5 million in emotional damages.

"As much as they pay, they will never compensate for life," Khazal said.

--Tribune staff reporters Bill Glauber and Deborah Horan contributed to this report.

-----

To see more of the Chicago Tribune, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.chicago.tribune.com/

(c) 2003, Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

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NEWSWEEK: In Baghdad, Official Control Over the News Tightens; Hospitals Declared Off-Limits, Morgue Officials Turn Away Reporters Without a Coalition Escort 'All the TV Wants to Cover Is Some Sensational, Isolated Terrorist Attack,' Says Commerce Secretary Don Evans After Visiting Iraq.

623 words
20 October 2003
01:22
PR Newswire
English
Copyright (c) 2003 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved.

NEW YORK, Oct. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Reporters and government officials have always squabbled over access; but the news coverage of the messy, ongoing conflict in Iraq has worsened the already tense relationship between the press and the Bush administration, report Diplomatic Correspondent Richard Wolffe and Correspondent-at-Large Rod Nordland in the October 27 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands Monday, October 20). American officials accuse reporters of indulging in a morbid obsession with death and destruction, and ignoring how Iraq has improved since Saddam Hussein was toppled. Reporters grumble that the secretive White House and Pentagon hold back just how grim and chaotic the situation really is.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20031019/NYSU008 )

In Baghdad, official control over the news is getting tighter. Journalists used to walk freely into the city's hospitals and the morgue to keep count of the day's dead and wounded. Now the hospitals have been declared off-limits and morgue officials turn away reporters who aren't accompanied by a Coalition escort. Iraqi police refer reporters' questions to American forces; the Americans refer them back to the Iraqis.

Earlier this month, U.S. troops entered the streets of Baghdad to restore order during a protest that turned ugly. Someone threw a homemade grenade at the Americans, wounding 13 servicemen. According to the Oct. 8 Daily Threat Assessment -- the Coalition's internal casualty report, which was shown to Newsweek -- eight soldiers were wounded seriously enough to be evacuated to military hospitals. Yet at a press conference the next day, there was no mention of the attack. Pushed by reporters, U.S. officials would only say the incident was under investigation. It was as if the ambush, and the casualties, had never happened.

After a summer of sliding polls and an autumn of tough questions in Congress, the White House is hoping to boost public support by convincing Americans that the cynical national press is getting the story wrong. Last week President George W. Bush himself complained about the national media's fixation on bad news, and made a show of going around them by granting interviews with local TV reporters.

News management is at the heart of the administration's shake-up of Iraq policy. The National Security Council recently created four new committees to handle the situation in Iraq. One is devoted entirely to media coordination-stopping the bad news from overwhelming the good. Yet White House officials insist their agenda for Iraq is not driven by the need to generate positive campaign coverage. "If this was all about the election, do you think we would have gone to Congress and said we need $87 billion to send 8,000 miles away?" says one senior administration official. "I don't think so."

One new tactic in the media war is to send congressional allies and cabinet secretaries to Baghdad to bypass the American reporters. Commerce Secretary Don Evans flew into Iraq last week to tell investors and voters back home to stop believing the news on TV. "All the TV wants to cover is some sensational, isolated terrorist attack," Evans told Newsweek on his flight back to Washington. "I went over expecting to find an environment where people were frightened. But I found a country that was alive with hope and optimism."

(Read Newsweek's news releases at http://www.newsweek.msnbc.com/.

Click "Pressroom.")

Web site: http://www.newsweek.msnbc.com/

CONTACT: Kirsty McDonald of Newsweek, +1-212-445-4078

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Unspeakable savagery on streets of Baghdad.

1,419 words
10 October 2003
Irish Times
11
English
(c) 2003

Back to Iraq: Evidence of the daily carnage can be found in abundance at the city's morgue. Lara Marlowe went there

The little bundle wrapped inside plastic sheeting is dwarfed by the adult-sized plywood coffin. 2-1/2 year-old Fatima Ala'a's aunt crumples to the ground outside the Baghdad city morgue when she sees the viscous, grey-green blob teeming with maggots.

Another relative sprays insecticide on the corpse, to fight off the onslaught of flies. "They kidnapped her seven days ago," says Fatima's uncle, Walid Mohamed.

"A neighbour's family did it, the sons of Um Ashraf and Abu Ashraf. They wanted money and we didn't have it. Someone else was demanding money from them, so they turned on us. Another neighbour noticed a bad smell in his house. That was how we found her, in the sewer. "I recognised her hair barrettes and her black trousers with the green polka-dots. Though she was very small, I think they raped her." Fatima's father Ala'a Abed, a night watchman, stands to one side, as if in a trance. The little girl was his eldest child. He has only an infant son left. The Shia family from the district of Sayadieh did not have enough money to take Fatima to their holy city of Najaf for burial, so they buried her in Baghdad yesterday.

"We blame the Americans for not taking security seriously," her Uncle Walid says. A trip to the Baghdad city morgue and forensics institute makes clear the depths to which human beings can sink, the unspeakable savagery that reigns on the streets of the Iraqi capital.

As I talk with Fatima's family, a white jeep backs up to the door of the autopsy room, its tailgate open. A man keens over the body of his brother, shot dead hours earlier. "Oh Ahmad Mohamed," he wails. "Where are the people who believe in the holy books, in the Koran and the Bible?" The morgue receives between 20 and 30 bodies each day, less than during the peak killing season of July and August, but still three times the number of daily fatalities prior to the US occupation.

"The Americans should issue a new law, that any murderer they catch will be hanged," says Dr Sa'ad Kadim, a forensic pathologist. "When Saddam Hussein fell, we were happy, but after the looting and killing took hold, we lost heart."

Police brought 667 bodies to the morgue in the month of September. Of those, 372 - including 50 women - died of gunshot wounds, says Dr Qais Hassan, also a forensic pathologist and the director of the morgue's statistics department. The worst month this year was August, when 518 Baghdadis were shot dead, compared to 10 fatalities from bullets in August 2002.

The statistics tell the story of Baghad's descent into cold-blooded mayhem. In all of 2002, 174 people died of gunshot wounds in the capital. This year, until the end of September, pathologists recorded 2,173 deaths by firearms in Baghdad alone, almost all of them since May. The institute closed down for ..10 days when the regime fell in April, so dozens if not hundreds of deaths during that period were not counted.

"It's a disaster," Dr Hassan says. "At the end of the war, the Iraqi army left weapons all over the place. US forces could have collected them, but they didn't do it. Security is getting a little better, because there are more Iraqi police now." Dr Hassan estimates that up to a quarter of fatal shootings are caused by US troops.

"Twenty days ago, Iraqis were joy-shooting at a wedding party in Baghdad and the Americans thought they were being attacked. "They opened fire and killed a 21-year-old woman, the five-month-old daughter she was holding in her arms and the woman's eight-year-old brother.

"At the end of July, a family were driving past a power station guarded by the Americans in the Suleikh district. "Something exploded near a generator and the Americans fired at the car.

"They killed the father - I remember, his name was Adel - his 20-year-old son and daughters, aged 19 and 13." Dr Hassan says it is easy to tell the difference between Iraqi and US bullets.

"This morning, the police from Mahmoudiya station brought in this man," he says, holding up the papers for 26-year-old Sa'ad Mohamed. "I found American-type bullets in his body. They are long and narrow and do far more damage to internal organs than Iraqi bullets. They make big laceration wounds." Sa'ad Mohamed had five bullets in his chest, head and arms. "I don't know if he attacked the Americans," Dr Hassan says.

When asked by Western journalists, the Coalition Provisional Authority and US military officials have repeatedly said they do not know how many Iraqi civilians have fallen victim to the extreme violence of post-war Baghdad. But every month, Dr Hassan says, US representatives in the health ministry across the street ask their Iraqi counterparts to request the statistics from him. It is not clear whether the silence of the CPA regarding civilian Iraqi deaths is due to a deliberate cover-up or merely the bureaucratic failure to pass on information within the CPA.

In the small alley behind the forensic institute, outside the blue metal doors leading to the autopsy and refrigeration rooms, the tragedy is unending. The cheap coffins lined up on the ground are lent by mosques. Since Muslims are buried in a shroud only, the coffins are recycled after each trip to the cemetery.

A man removes a blood-soaked piece of cardboard from one coffin, a blood-stained blanket from another, preparing them for the next victims. A middle-aged man stands calmly amid the moaning and wailing and bustle of families crowding around the clerk's window to pay the 10,000 Iraqi dinars (about E4.30) fee for a death certificate.

"I am waiting for my daughter's body," he whispers. "She was standing by the gate to our house and someone shot her." Water used to mop the floors inside the morgue floods into the alley, which reeks of the sour, butcher shop smell of death.

Policemen carry in a man's body, covered by a blanket. Two bloodied feet, bound at the ankles, protrude from under the rough fabric. "We found him in the street in Baghdad Jediedeh at 7 am," Lt Arkan Khalil says. "The thieves cut his legs, but he died of strangulation. We think they stole his car. We found no identity papers. It's a miserable situation. These things never used to happen."

"When the victim has no papers, we write 'unknown' in the records," Dr Kadim says. "It happens with three or four out of every 20 victims. Families come here looking for missing people. We keep them in the refrigerator for one month, and then Muslim charities or the municipality bury them."

A Toyota police pick-up with a double cabin backs into the courtyard with two partially covered bodies in the back. They are car thieves, shot by the man they tried to rob. "Most of the deaths are related to car theft," Dr Kadim continues. The owner of a new Opel car handed over his keys to thieves in Haifa Street and ran.

When the thieves realised that he had used an electronic zapper to block the door locks, they pursued him and shot him; the Opel owner's body too found its way to the city morgue yesterday morning. Revenge is another frequent motive. "It's from the previous time," Dr Kadim explains.

"A lot of those killed are former Ba'ath party members, intelligence and security officials. We know because their relatives tell us." Musa Ahmad has come to collect the body of his cousin Haidar Sabah (32).

"The neighbours saw him dying in the street and went and told his mother. He was shot four times in the legs and lower abdomen. He was his widowed mother's only son, and we had to stop her from throwing herself in the river. The two of them lived alone together." Mr Sabah sold electrical supplies in the Shorja market. "He was a scrappy guy, always getting in fights," Mr Musa said. "I think it was revenge. But only God knows."

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Iraq, six months on - A survey of the good, the bad and the uncertain.

603 words
10 October 2003
The Independent - London
1
English
(c) 2003 Independent Newspapers (UK) Limited . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, distributed or exploited in any way.

Casualties

The total of Allied soldiers killed since Saddam Hussein was deposed on 9 April is 230. The death toll includes 207 American servicemen and 20 Britons. During September, civilian deaths by gunfire in Baghdad totalled 518. Under Saddam, deaths from gun violence in Baghdad averaged 6 per month. According to the central morgue in Baghdad, violent deaths reached 872 in August. The highest monthly toll in the previous year was 237 deaths, with just 21 from gunfire.

Oil & Fuel

Only 300 petrol outlets for Iraq's 25 million people. Officially cheap and available but most rely on the black market. Refineries producing only 1.25m barrels of crude a day, compared with 2.4m barrels a month before the war. Estimated cost of restoring oil production to the pre-1991 level of 3.5m barrels per day is $6.6bn. Iraq is exporting 70,000 barrels per day compared with

1.8m per day before the war.

Food

Three out of five Iraqis depend on food aid. Before the invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the imposition of UN sanctions, Iraq was one of the best fed countries in the Middle East. Then, it imported two thirds of its needs.

Water

Safe drinking water is now available to 60% of the population, compared with 85% before the war. The amount proposed by the Coalition Provisional Authority to spend on a new water system is $2.8bn to give 90% of the population a supply of safe drinking water.

Education

Iraq has 15,000 schools and 1.5m secondary school pupils. The United States says 7,000 schools needed repair before the war. So far, 175 have been repaired.

Media

The number of newspapers and magazines being published since Saddam's fall is 189. This compares with 39 under Saddam,

all of which were tightly controlled

and censored.

Reconstruction

The total cost of rebuilding Iraq is estimated at $100bn, with the US to pay $20.3bn. This is far higher than planned by Washington and $80bn must be raised from donors such as Japan, the EU and Arab states. It includes $2.1bn for policing, $2.1bn for armed forces, $919m for justice, $4.6bn for water and sanitation, $850m for health care, $470m for housing and $835m for transport and telecoms.

Power Electricity restored to pre-war levels by the US power company Bechtel at £80m cost. Three-quarters of Iraqis to have access by 2005. Baghdad's power is off for 30 minutes a day. Total for electricity development is £2.35bn.

Governance

Iraq is being ruled by US pro-consul Paul Bremer as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority. There are now 70 political parties, compared with the one-party state under Saddam. The US-appointed, 25-strong Iraq Governing Council is sidelined. Despite calls for a rapid handover, the US says it will take six months to draw up the constitution leading to elections and an Iraqi government next year.

Child deaths

Infant mortality has nearly doubled since the war. An independent survey last month showed 103 child deaths per 1,000 live births compared with 57 deaths per 1,000 in 2002.

Opinion

Most Iraqis approve of the removal of Saddam. Last month, Gallup polled residents in Baghdad and found that 62% thought the suffering they have endured was worth it to live in a post-Saddam era. 67% thought that their lives will be better five years from now.

Sources United Nations, US Gov, World Bank, WHO, FAO, WFP, Unicef, Gallup, Oxfam.

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News
Close-up

Baghdad: dead reckoning ; Shootings are filling its morgue

Jeffrey Fleishman
Los Angeles Times
1,729 words
25 September 2003
The Seattle Times
Fourth
A3
English
Copyright (c) 2003 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

Baghdad, Iraq

THE NUMBER OF reported gun-related killings in Baghdad has increased 25-fold since President Bush declared an end to major combat May 1. But most of the dead are not casualties of military actions or terrorist attacks they are everyday civilians, victims of robberies, carjackings and just plain anger in a wave of previously repressed violence that is challenging U.S. efforts to restore stability.

BAGHDAD, Iraq A sourness stings the morning air as men with wooden coffins tied on taxis come to collect the murdered: a boy shot in the face during a carjacking, a ruffian stabbed in a neighborhood fight, a sheik ambushed by his rivals, a son with a bullet through the heart.

U.S.-led coalition forces insist that stability is returning to Iraq. The ledger in the Baghdad morgue tells a different tale.

The number of reported gun-related killings in Baghdad has increased 25-fold since President Bush declared an end to major combat May 1. Before the war began, the morgue investigated an average of 20 deaths a month caused by firearms. In June, that number rose to 389 and in August it reached 518. Moreover, the overall number of suspicious deaths jumped from about 250 a month last year to 872 in August.

The Baghdad morgue is beyond full. Refrigeration boxes that usually hold six bodies are crammed with 18. An unidentified corpse is dragged across the floor beneath the blue glow of an insect- repelling light. Five others two pocked with gunshot wounds lie on steel tables. With quiet determination, pathologists lift their scalpels, chart their findings and fill the waiting coffins.

Most of the dead here are not casualties of military actions or terrorist attacks, such as last month's bombing of the U.N. headquarters, which killed at least 20 people. Nor are they U.S. soldiers.

Instead, they are everyday civilians, victims of the violence that has become a fact of life in a city that wakes and sleeps to the cadence of gunfire and unrelenting crime. The coalition forces and the new Iraqi police have been unable to stop the torrent of mayhem springing from robberies, carjackings and just plain anger.

Settling old scores

Many killings, according to police and pathologists, are rooted in revenge. Saddam Hussein's ousted regime murdered tens of thousands in its ongoing terror campaign, but its omnipresent security force limited animosities among tribes and clans.

With that shackle broken, the slights and anger that accumulated over the years are being settled with a sort of frontier justice, especially against Baath Party loyalists and other remnants of Saddam's regime.

The equation is further complicated by the thousands of criminals Saddam released from prison in the months before the March invasion by U.S.-led coalition forces. And by the tens of thousands of Kalashnikov rifles and pistols that make every neighborhood an arsenal. Coalition troops confiscated heavy weapons in July but allowed Iraqis to keep some light arms for self-defense. These guns often lead to murder.

Bodies are fished out of the muddy-green Tigris. They are pulled from alleys, gathered from rooftops and lifted from garbage piles. Some are left on the roadside. They are then brought to the morgue, where a meticulous man wearing rubber gloves ties strings around their wrists and assigns each of them a number.

"We are a people not yet suitable for democracy," said Sattar Mohammed, who waited the other day with an open coffin to pick up his murdered neighbor. "We need to be strictly handled. We need a tight fist over us. We lived like that for 30 years under Saddam Hussein, but now people are free, and they're acting on their will. It is dangerous."

That grim assessment is echoed often.

"I've been working in this morgue for 29 years," said Dr. Abdul Razzaq Ubaidi, a pathologist. "It used to be accidents and natural deaths. Now, there are too many weapons in society. We used to dissect six or seven bodies a day, but now we do 25 to 35 a day and 80 percent of them are bullet injuries. We have more freedom, but with the absence of security there is more freedom for murder."

This has resulted in a state of lawlessness as an embryonic U.S.- backed government works to bring a new form of administration to this impoverished country.

The police force is understaffed, with about 38,000 officers nationwide, but it is expected to grow to 65,000. Baghdad has more than 5,000 officers, down from 17,000 before the war.

An ambush but no theft

The death of Sheik Abdul Jabar Farhan Salman, according to authorities, appears to have been caused by a mix of revenge and opportunism. A member of the powerful Bu-Issa tribe in Fallujah, the sheik controlled much of the region's cigarette market. Rich enough to escape the turmoil of postwar Iraq, Salman moved his family to Amman, Jordan. However, he visited Iraq frequently to check his business.

On Sept. 1 at 10:20 p.m., the sheik was driving his white Nissan near a Baghdad crossroads when two cars appeared beside him and gunmen firing 9-millimeter automatic pistols shot him in the heart and shoulder.

He died not much more than a quarter-mile from the Khadra district police station, where U.S. military police stand lookout.

"It seems to be a case of revenge," said Lt. Col. Sabah Majeed Latif, an Iraqi police commander. "Those who killed him stole nothing. Only a few members of his tribe knew he was back in town. ... There was hostility toward him, and it looks as if his cigarette rivals wanted to get rid of him."

Dr. Faik Amin Bakr, director of the Baghdad Forensics Institute, cites some daunting statistics. In July 2002, he said, suspicious deaths in Baghdad were already high at 237 a figure absent those who disappeared at the hands of Saddam's security forces. A year later, though, with U.S. troops on the ground, the figure had more than tripled to 751.

"When you see people killed every day, you imagine the insecure situation in the country," he said, later adding, "It is difficult to blame somebody. Something should be done by the coalition forces. ... It is their job."

The morgue itself was a victim of crime during the war. Looters stole steel gurneys and electric autopsy saws. Some of the doctors today who earn $180 a month must saw into bodies by hand. Like the rest of Baghdad, the morgue faces sporadic shortages of electricity, water and gas. There is also a lack of needles, sutures and other supplies. Bodies appear constantly, as if from a tide. They are photographed and some including 21 on a day earlier this month go to the grave in anonymity.

A brisk business

The scent of death outside the autopsy room intensified in the desert heat of a recent afternoon. With wooden coffins borrowed from neighborhood mosques across the vast city, families arrived in the alley to collect their dead. Some coffins were communal and stained with the blood of earlier victims.

Wrapped in carpets and lowered from the roofs of taxis and mini- buses, the coffins were placed by the morgue door until names were called and bodies carried into the sunlight and loaded for the 110- mile journey to the holy city of Najaf for burial.

Men spoke of revenge while they were waiting, standing in the shade of a berry tree. Some fidgeted with the pistols hidden beneath their shirts. The men were mostly quiet, but the women, dressed in black robes that billowed through the alley, beat their chests and wailed.

A pickup truck pulled up. A man got out. His son who had refused to give his car to a thief lay in the back with a bullet through the face. The blood was fresh. Another boy crouched and cried. The morgue door opened and the father bowed his head. Two more coffins arrived, and by midmorning the alley was full.

Fadhil Abbas Jasim had his brother's blood on his shirt. Khudhayr, 23, was stabbed, then shot after a marketplace quarrel with a drug addict named Adil, he said.

"My brother had a skirmish with him," said Fadhil, who sat at the morgue with a coffin. "Adil stabbed him in the wrist. My brother wrestled the knife from him and came home. I was going to the marketplace to see what happened. I told Khudhayr to stay at home. But he ran out to buy a pack of cigarettes and when he stepped outside, Adil shot him with a Kalashnikov. He shot 12 bullets and hit my brother six times.

"I dragged my brother into the house. He was dying. ... Adil shot him because he had lost face in the marketplace after my brother took the knife from him. The neighbors fetched me a Jeep, and I drove Khudhayr to the hospital, but the doctor said he had been dead for some minutes. ... I brought him here to get a death certificate so he can be buried. I paid $7 for it. They gave my brother a number on his wrist. I'm waiting to pick him up."

IMAGES

Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times : Pathologist Abdul Razzaq Ubaidi, foreground, is shown with assistant Madi Raheem Jabeer in the Baghdad morgue's autopsy room. "It used to be accidents and natural deaths," he said. "Now, there are too many weapons in society. We used to dissect six or seven bodies a day, but now we do 25 to 35 a day and 80 percent of them are bullet injuries." (0393497047)

Copyright [copyright] Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved. You must get permission before you reproduce any part of this material.

photo; Caption: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times : Pathologist Abdul Razzaq Ubaidi, foreground, is shown with assistant Madi Raheem Jabeer in the Baghdad morgue's autopsy room. "It used to be accidents and natural deaths," he said. "Now, there are too many weapons in society. We used to dissect six or seven bodies a day, but now we do 25 to 35 a day and 80 percent of them are bullet injuries." (0393497047)

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NEWS

Baghdad central morgue (folo) Frustrated Iraqis still awaiting a better life

The New York Times
343 words
17 September 2003
International Herald Tribune
1R
1
English
Copyright (c) 2003 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

The Baghdad central morgue is a low building of mustard-colored bricks that sits in the midst of a concentration of hospitals called Medical City, formerly Saddam Medical City. Inside, its director for the past 13 years, Dr. Faiq Amin Bakr, reels off the grim statistics that confirm to Iraqis that they have entered a seemingly lawless twilight zone they find terrifying: 462 people dead under suspicious circumstances or in automobile accidents in May, about 70 percent from gunshot wounds; 626 in June; 751 in July; 872 in August.

By comparison, last year there were 237 deaths in July, one of the highest months, with just 21 from gunfire. Dozens of Iraqis mill around outside, their dead relatives a cross-section of ill-fated lives. A police officer arrives with an ambulance bearing the body of an unidentified, roughly 21-year-old man found shot to death in the middle of a street, likely the victim of a carjacking. One family is collecting the corpse of their 25-year-old cousin, killed around 9 one night by a bullet in the neck that was probably from a burst of celebratory gunfire during a wedding.

A second family is collecting the body of a 30-year-old night watchman at a large state-owned factory, shot to death by looters. Several families from Abu Ghraib, just west of Baghdad, are there to gather some of the four victims, including an 8-year-old girl, they said were shot to death by American soldiers who opened fire in the market after a grenade was thrown at their armored personnel carrier. The U.S. military spokesman's office in Baghdad confirmed that one soldier was wounded in a grenade attack, but denied that the soldiers, from the First Armored Division, fired back.

The American soldiers are so panicky that if a tire bursts in the street they start shooting, said Nabil Saleh al-Ani, a cousin of one dead man.

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National/Foreign

BAGHDAD MORGUE, HOSPITAL LOGS TELL OF VIOLENCE SINCE OCCUPATION, CITY SEES SURGE IN SHOOTING DEATHS

Thanassis Cambanis, Globe Staff
1,142 words
3 September 2003
The Boston Globe
THIRD
A.9
English
Copyright (c) 2003 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

BAGHDAD - Even in these murderous days, where carjackings, shootings, and holdups by machine-gun-armed gangs are commonplace, Allaa Abed Ali's grisly claim at the Baghdad morgue stood out in the keening crowd.

Twelve of his family members were massacred in their two-story home at lunchtime Aug. 25 in one of the inexplicable but increasingly common attacks that have made many Iraqis feel less safe than they did during the American invasion - and which have become a rallying point against military authorities.

Ali and several dozen kinsmen had come to pick up the bodies and bear them away to Najaf, site of the holiest cemetery for Shi'ite Muslims.

In Baghdad, where the number of murders has skyrocketed into the hundreds every month since US forces took over and disbanded the Iraqi security forces, the Ali clan was not alone in the morgue's cramped concrete courtyard. Hundreds of Baghdadis waited to claim family members whose violent deaths required autopsies before the bodies could be released.

No one has quantified the exact level of violence in Iraq, matching numbers to the ubiquitous contention that the country is less safe now than it was under Saddam Hussein's rule.

But hospital emergency room logs and the Baghdad morgue numbers provide a clue.

In 2002 the Baghdad morgue conducted autopsies in 3,500 suspicious deaths; 350 died from gunshot wounds.

But in the three months since the fall of Hussein's government - May, June, and July - the morgue has logged 1,169 shooting deaths out of a total of 1,868 suspicious fatalities, according to the morgue's director, Dr. Faik Amin Baker.

The US-led occupation authority insists that the security environment for Iraqis has not deteriorated unreasonably and that Baghdad was a dangerous city under the old regime.

The American authorities in Iraq don't track civilian deaths, even those caused by coalition soldiers. "We have not found it a benefit during the entire war to get into civilian casualties. We never got into body counts," US military spokesman Colonel Guy Shields said.

The Iraq Body Count Project, a group of researchers based in London, estimates the Iraqi civilian deaths resulting directly from coalition military action at 6,113 to 7,830 in 2003. The tally is based primarily on media reports.

The nightly firefights that punctuate the still-hot Baghdad nights signal a surge in violence that has affected every sector of the population.

New police are being trained, but with only 38,000 hired so far across Iraq, they're not up to prewar strength. Coalition officials, including occupation administrator L. Paul Bremer III, have repeatedly stressed that newly constituted Iraqi security bodies are the only solution to the safety problem. The US-led administration plans to hire and train tens of thousands of Iraqis for a reconstituted Iraqi military, as well as a Civil Defense corps that will supplement the police.

However, it could take up to a year for the coalition to hire and train new local forces.

Other moves by the coalition might have exacerbated the security collapse driving the wave of civilian deaths.

In an attempt to reign in Iraq's firearm-friendly culture, the coalition has made it illegal to carry guns; one unintended consequence was the disbanding of well-armed neighborhood patrols that sprung up in Baghdad to deter thieves and looters in the absence of US military patrols.

Iraqis regularly empty AK-47 clips in the air as a gesture of joy. On Thursday nights, the traditional wedding day, bursts of fire pierce the postcurfew quiet. Many of those stray bullets land Iraqis in hospital emergency rooms.

At Al-Yarmuk Hospital, the largest public hospital in western Baghdad, the emergency room admits about 20 gunshot and stab victims nightly - 10 times more than before the war, according to the director, Dr. Mahdi Jasim Moosa, 55.

The logbook entries for a recent Wednesday night show more than a dozen admissions for bullet wounds, mortar injuries, and stabbings.

Bleeding in the waiting room from a stab wound in his calf was Walid Khalid Hassan, who said he had just been robbed of 25,000 Iraqi dinars, about $12.

Citywide, police investigate about 70 shootings a day, said Sergeant Abdul Rahman Hassain. "You hear gunshots all day, every day," Hassain said. "As police, during the regime, if we saw someone carrying a gun, we'd fine them and confiscate the weapon."

Police are investigating the murders at the home of Abdul Amir Kamel, Ali's uncle, in Al-Shaab, a Shi'ite suburb on Baghdad's eastern edge. Blood coats the walls, carpets, and kitchen table of the house where the 12 people - including four children under 6 - were shot to death.

"This is the result of too many people having guns in their hands," said Sergeant Ali R. Karim, who gathered the bodies from the shoe factory owner's home. "There were always feuds before, but people didn't have weapons."

At the morgue, people collect autopsy reports as well as bodies. Coffins jut from taxi trunks and are strapped to buses and cars.

Among the crowd: a mother who alleged that her 21-year-old son had been killed at a checkpoint by US soldiers who mistook the VCR he was carrying for a weapon; a man whose 28-year-old brother allegedly was shot by American troops when he went into a yard at 4 a.m. to start a generator; a man whose brother, a retired policeman, was shot to death in a carjacking; and a man whose brother and brother-in-law were killed in a home robbery.

Ali and his relatives brought plywood coffins to collect the bodies of their family members. Pushing through a crowd several hundred-strong when his name was called, Ali entered the morgue's anteroom through the blue cast-iron sliding doors upon which a notice declared: "No tips greater than 10,000 dinars accepted. Please close the door behind you."

When he emerged, Ali was weeping convulsively, gripping his face in both hands, then looking skyward. "Father, father," he cried.

As the family chanted a prayer, he tied his father's coffin to the roof of a 1979 Toyota Crown for the three-hour journey to Najaf.

"We cannot point our finger at anybody yet," Ali said of the rampage. "But Baghdad is no longer safe - nowhere. There is killing on the streets in broad daylight."

Thanassis Cambanis can be reached at tcambanis@globe.com.

Susan Milligan of the Globe staff contributed to this story.

Caption: Relatives waited at a Baghdad morgue recently after an Iraqi killed his wife, four children, and six visiting family members. / AFP PHOTO / ABIH MOGHRABI

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Bodies pile up in Iraq morgue as murder rate soars.

By Rosalind Russell
531 words
29 August 2003
00:37
Reuters News
English
(c) 2003 Reuters Limited

BAGHDAD, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Grieving women wailed and beat their heads at the back door of the Baghdad coroner's office on Thursday, waiting for the bodies of their murdered loved ones to be released for burial.

At regular intervals, the blue metal door creaked open and another corpse was handed over to be laid in one of the rough wooden coffins strapped to the roofs of waiting taxis.

Inside, amid the stench of death, coroners worked flat out, their daily caseload more than tripled by postwar Iraq's violent crime wave.

The bodies of some 35 Iraqis who met violent or suspicious deaths passed through Baghdad's Institute of Forensic Medicine on Thursday, a typical daily toll in the capital since the U.S.-led war which deposed Saddam Hussein in April.

Most of the bodies had gunshot wounds in a city where law and order has broken down and automatic rifles or pistols are must-have items in nearly every household.

"Before the war, we would see maybe 10 cases a day," said the institute's director Dr Faik Amin Bakir. "Now it is three or four times that and nearly all because of shootings. It's a new situation, a terrible situation."

Armed gangs of looters roam the streets, killing those who stand in their way. Revenge killings are also common as people settle old scores in the knowledge that murders are likely to go unpunished.

Some Iraqis have been shot dead by American soldiers, and some by their own police.

VIOLENT CITY

Baghdad's murder rate eclipses that of other major cities. New York, whose former police chief Bernard Kerik is tasked with revamping the Iraqi police force, last year recorded around 48 homicides per month, barely more than the daily murder rate in Baghdad.

Even notoriously violent Rio de Janeiro cannot match Baghdad for murders, averaging 12 a day last year.

His eyes wet with tears, Jabar Hussein sat on the kerbside waiting for the body of his 26-year-old son Salim who was shot dead just after dawn in the impoverished district of Sadr City.

"He was just going to work. We don't know why it happened," said Jabar, staring at the ground. "There is shooting all the time. No one can stop it."

The city's police say they are trying their best in the most dangerous of circumstances. Ghazwan Whalid came to collect the body of his colleague Lieutenant Ahmed Haider, killed with another policeman on Wednesday while trying to apprehend a gang of robbers on a busy Baghdad street.

"Every day a policeman is killed in Baghdad," he said. "Every day I say goodbye to my wife and fear I will not see her again."

Those criminals who are arrested by police are taken to detention facilities set up by U.S. forces. But with Iraq's judicial system in chaos, many are simply kicked back out on to the streets after just a few weeks.

"The Americans jail them and after 20 days release them," Whalid said. "Then they'll find us and take their revenge."

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Baghdad morgue bears grim witness to post-Saddam violence.

by Rory Mulholland
679 words
28 August 2003
Agence France Presse
English
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003 All reproduction and presentation rights reserved.

= (PICTURES)

Baghdad's mortuary has become a grim port of call for residents seeking their missing loved ones and for journalists trying to get hard figures on the ever-growing number of people killed amid the lawlessness of post-war Iraq.

"They shot him in the back of the head," explains Taleb Issa, as he stands in the mortuary courtyard in the capital's Medical City amid a crowd of wailing women and anguished men.

Taleb is waiting for his taxi-driver cousin's body to be released after doctors carry out a post-mortem.

A policeman clears a path through the weary throng for a man carrying the body of a child wrapped in a blanket. On the street outside vehicles come and go with rough wooden coffins strapped to their roofs or protruding from car boots.

The nauseating stench of the mortuary filters into the courtyard. Inside, officials in green overalls and rubber boots go about their grisly work, hauling bodies from the coffins onto trolley beds or into the coffins to be handed back to relatives.

"We used to deal with about 3,500 suspicious deaths here a year," says Faik Amin Bakr, the head of Baghdad's Medical-Legal Institute, adding that only about 10 percent of those were due to gunshot wounds.

"In July this year alone, we got 780 deaths, with 460 of them due to gunshot wounds. That's the equivalent in one month of deaths due to gunfire that we would normally get in a year and a half," he said.

Bakr adds that August produced similiar figures, and notes that it is impossible to estimate the number of people who die violent deaths and whose bodies are not brought to the mortuary.

Journalists seeking to get an idea of the extent of the crime wave often turn up at the mortuary to talk to relatives and get the latest figures from officials.

Neither the new Iraq police force nor the US-led authorities now running Iraq can provide any statistics, but insist they are cutting crime rates.

They blame much of the crime on the tens of thousands of prisoners amnestied by Saddam last October and on Baath party loyalists who have become full-blown gangsters since losing their privileged perch in society.

There are tangible signs of progress. The coalition points to the robust presence of policemen, crisply dressed in white and blue, directing traffic and manning checkpoints.

There are now more than 35,000 police officers throughout Iraq, and the coalition hopes to reach 75,000 within two years. The police are cracking down on kidnapping gangs and are regularly carrying out raids to seize illegal weapons.

But the new outfit still suffers from a lack of training, weapons, uniforms and vehicles, and police stations often do not even have furniture. Many officers also have little or no concept of the role of police in society.

The wave of looting in the days in April that followed the toppling of Saddam has long since subsided, but Baghdad, a city of some five million residents, is still awash with weapons.

The result is that nearly four months after the war was declared effectively over, Baghdadis still do not feel safe, and most try to make it home well before the 11:00 pm (1900 GMT) curfew.

"Saddam might have been a dictator but at least he knew how to deal with crime," said taxi driver Ali Hussein Lazim.

"I used to work till two or three in the morning without fear."

The Baghdad mortuary is likely to remain the best indicator of crime levels for some time.

It is a place to which 17-year-old Ahmed Rahim will keep returning. He stands in the courtyard with a photocopied picture of his elder brother, Faraj, who disappeared in April.

"I come about twice a week to see if he's here," he says. "It's hard to have to look at all these bodies."

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US faces uphill task at UN - Saddam's pool helps U.S. troops in Iraqi heat - Israel vows more ...

By Ibrahim Barzak., and Yuri Bagrov., and Estes Thompson., and Bob Johnson., and Matthew Pennington., and Kim Housego.
7,598 words
23 August 2003
Turkish Daily News
English
(c) 2003 The Turkish Daily News (TDN)

US faces uphill task at UN - Saddam's pool helps U.S. troops in Iraqi heat - Israel vows more strikes on Palestinian militants - Worm infects 30% of China e-mail users - Gunmen kidnap five people at a doctor's office near Chechnya - North Carolina executes inmate - Saudi man beheaded for killing father - Alabama judges order removal of Ten Commandments - West Virginia sniper deaths by same weapon - US soldier killed in action in east Afghanistan - 'Dead' Vietnamese man revives after night in morgue - France turns attention to farmers hit by heat wave - Former Iran envoy in UK court for Argentina blast - French foreign minister hopes for imminent deal with Libya.

France expresses doubt over whether more foreign troops should be sent to Iraq, a day after Powell launches a drive to get more nations to send soldiers to help US forces there; American Marine killed in action south of Baghdad

UNITED NATIONS/BAGHDAD - Despite worldwide anguish over the bombing of the U.N. compound in Baghdad, the United States faces considerable resistance in its quest to recruit more troops, police and money to help rebuild Iraq.

France, Germany and Russia, all former opponents of the war, made clear on Thursday that the crisis did not change their positions on wanting a larger United Nations role in molding Iraq's future.

Meanwhile, France expressed doubt over whether more foreign troops should be sent to Iraq on Friday, a day after Powell launched a drive to get more nations to send soldiers to help U.S. forces there.

Speaking on French radio, Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin urged the coalition powers to switch from "a logic of occupation to a logic of sovereignty" in Iraq.

Villepin was asked on French radio RTL for his response to Powell's requests for more nations to send troops.

"Is there a need for a security escalation? I'm not sure," he said. "The real question is whether there needs to be a rethink of the involvement in Iraq, not only that of the U.N. but that of all the parties, including the coalition."

But U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell gave no indication the Bush administration would relinquish military or other controls of the country's development.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who was conferring with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday on a Security Council resolution aimed at encouraging nations to help in Iraq, echoed Powell on the need for a unified military command under control of the United States, which has 150,000 troops in Iraq.

But he also said potential troop contributors would be asked their views on language that would meet political needs.

Powell, after conferring with Annan, stressed that the U.S.-led force in Iraq was already multinational, with 30 nations providing about 22,000 troops and more expected.

But 11,000 of these troops are from Britain alone. Countries such as India, Pakistan and Turkey are reluctant to send troops without another U.N. mandate and some have doubts about serving under a U.S. command.

"Ceding authority is not an issue we have had to discuss," Powell told reporters. But he said that "perhaps additional language and a new resolution might encourage others."

Michel Duclos, the deputy French ambassador, took the lead in criticizing the Bush administration, saying it had not even fulfilled its promise for an international board of advisors for a fund that would decide how to spend Iraqi oil monies.

'Share the burden'

"To share the burden and the responsibilities in a world of equal and sovereign nations, also means sharing information and authority," Duclos said.

At least 24 people perished on Tuesday when a truck bomb demolished U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, killing 23 staff members and injuring nearly 100 more. Brazilian Sergio Vieira de Mello, head of the mission, perished in his office.

Annan himself again turned down any suggestion of organizing a blue-helmeted peacekeeping force. But he said he could visualize a multinational force "that oversees the security arrangements with the United Nations."

Richard Holbrooke, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the Clinton administration, gave his own interpretation of Annan's comments in television interviews.

"What Colin Powell did was come to New York and offer the same resolution essentially that we'd offered two weeks ago and portray it as a tribute to the fallen and great and brave Sergio Vieira de Mello and the other U.N. people," he said.

Calling troop contributions "piddling" except for Britain, Holbrooke told CNN that a NATO country like Norway should form a multinational force "with the sole mission of protecting the U.N." within an overall American umbrella.

Meanwhile, grieving over the disaster cascaded through U.N. headquarters in New York and Geneva. "The ache in our souls is almost too much too bear," Annan said in a message to Baghdad staff and employees around the world.

His chief spokesman, Fred Eckhard, was too upset to deliver a tribute to Younes, a former spokeswoman, and gave it to his deputy, Marie Okabe, to read.

The tribute recalled that Nadia Younes, recently at the World Health Organization, had a hand in inventing the name Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome after doctors at WHO wanted to call it Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

"It's redundant," she was quoted as saying, " but we couldn't call it ARS(e)."

US Marine becomes latest casualty

In the meantime, a U.S. Marine was killed in action south of Baghdad, a military spokesman said on Friday. The spokesman said the Marine, a member of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, had been killed in or near the city of Hilla, 100 km (60 miles) south of the capital on Thursday. He had no more information on the incident.

U.S. soldiers have been the targets of daily violence since the end of the war that ousted Saddam Hussein, but such attacks were overshadowed this week by the truck bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad that killed 24 people.

The marine's death brings to 64 the number of U.S. military personnel killed by hostile action since President George W. Bush declared major combat over on May 1.

The military said another U.S. soldier was killed and six were wounded in a fire at a small arms range in Baghdad on Thursday. There was no information on the cause of the blaze.

Residents in Ramadi, a hotbed of anti-American violence some 100 km (60 miles) west of Baghdad, said a rocket-propelled grenade struck a U.S. military vehicle on Friday. There was no immediate word from the U.S. military on any casualties.

The United States blames Saddam loyalists for much of the violence against its troops and is hunting the ousted president and his top lieutenants. It announced the capture of Saddam's feared cousin and aide "Chemical Ali" Hassan al-Majid on Thursday.

Majid was number five on a U.S. list of 55 most-wanted Iraqi fugitives. He got his nickname for using poison gas against Iraq's Kurdish population in the late 1980s.

In other developments

Saddam Hussein's regime possessed weapons of mass destruction and these would be found in time, a visiting senior Iraqi official said Friday. "We have many friends among Iraq's scientists who participated in producing these arms," said Jalal Talabani, a member of Iraq's interim Governing Council, who is in Australia for trade and aid talks. He spoke to reporters after meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer. Talabani said just because weapons had not yet been found, there was no reason to doubt their existence. He said Iraq was a big country and time was needed to discover weapons caches. Secretary General of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Talabani recalled how Saddam had used chemical weapons against his own people, Shiite Muslims and the Iranian army. Talabani is the first member of Iraq's governing council to visit Australia.

The Australian government lied about the threat of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to justify its involvement in the U.S.-led war, an official inquiry into intelligence on Iraq was told on Friday. A former senior intelligence analyst, Andrew Wilkie, who resigned in March in protest over Australia's case for war, said Prime Minister John Howard, a close U.S. ally, created a mythical Iraq by dropping ambiguous references in intelligence reports. "The government lied every time it skewed, misrepresented, used selectively and fabricated the Iraq story...The exaggeration was so great it was pure dishonesty," Wilkie, formerly of the Office of National Assessment (ONA), told the inquiry.

Iraq is a less dangerous place than many imagine, even after the bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino was quoted as saying on Friday. Italy has some 3,000 troops in Iraq, but Martino told Corriere della Sera newspaper that he was more concerned about the fate of 1,500 Italians currently serving in Afghanistan. "The situation in Iraq is much less dangerous than in Afghanistan. It is less dangerous than the recent bombing would suggest," he said, referring to Tuesday's Baghdad attack on a U.N. building that killed at least 24 people. Martino said most of the violence in Iraq was contained in an 80-km (50-mile) zone around Baghdad "where 50,000 people nostalgic for the (Saddam Hussein) regime are operating." Reuters and The AP

The Roman-style baths are open to soldiers allowed short breaks at the palace in Saddam's hometown, Tikrit, turned into a base for 26,000 soldiers occupying the surrounding provinces. Iraq's summer temperatures can hit 60 degrees Celsius

TIKRIT - A grandiose indoor pool in one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces is a real oasis in the desert for U.S. troops sweltering in Iraq's summer heat.

The Roman-style baths are open to soldiers allowed short breaks at the palace in Saddam's hometown, Tikrit, turned into a base for 26,000 soldiers occupying the surrounding provinces.

Iraq's summer temperatures can hit 60 degrees Celsius (140 F).

"For the soldiers to jump in this pool after weeks camping out in the desert in these temperatures is just amazing," said Sergeant Fernando Oliver, who runs the pool in a cavernous room of ornate roofs and green marble pillars.

Washington and London deliberately chose the relative cool of spring for their invasion of Iraq, but their occupying troops are now suffering in the searing summer temperatures.

Most soldiers carry at least 50 pounds (23 kg) with them - 30 pounds of body armor and another 20 of water and ammunition - on top of regulation uniform over an obligatory T-shirt.

Many also carry weapons, rucksacks and other equipment.

And the soldiers are often directly under the sun for hours on end during patrols and guard duty.

"We can't strip down to get cool because they want us to be disciplined, they don't want us to go back to the Vietnam era. That's real bullshit," one disaffected soldier in Tikrit said.

Army medical staff say heat fatigue and stress are common, with each unit suffering several cases a week.

Troops are instructed to stay in the shade where possible, keep their clothes loose and drink as much as they can of the water driven up in truckloads from Kuwait round-the-clock.

"In about two weeks, once we're into September, the temperatures will become nice again, like it was in spring when we showed up," said Lieutenant Conrad Wilmoski, of a medical platoon with the Tikrit-based 1st Battalion, 22nd Regiment.

"Some of the Iraqi physicians we spoke to told us we wouldn't make it through August, but here we are still. We have taken the heat pretty well."

With cramp, dizziness and confusion the typical symptoms of heat injuries, affected soldiers can generally recover with a few days' rest - and maybe a visit to Saddam's pool.

"They've just go to hang on until September, then we'll be through it," said Sergeant Angela Banks, who works at a special 24-hour weather monitoring unit at the U.S. base in Tikrit.

She and other staff at that unit post maximum and minimum day and night temperatures on a board every day, and relay the information to commanders in the field.

This week, temperatures reached nearly 50 degrees Celsius daily, while overnight it seldom drops below 30.

At headquarters in Tikrit - as well as Saddam's pool, where the water is a "cold" 25 degrees Celsius - air-conditioning units and fans proliferate.

The higher the rank, the better the equipment. But when the electricity fails, it's equal suffering for all. Reuters

Thirsting for vengeance, tens of thousands of Gazans, turn out for the funeral of Abu Shanab, a US-educated engineer seen by Palestinians and independent analysts as a moderate in the militant group and by Israel as a terrorist

Israel plans to kill more militant chiefs in raids mirroring a lethal missile strike on a Hamas leader, Israeli officials warned on Friday, as tens of thousands of Hamas supporters turned out for his funeral in a show of strength and promised thunderous revenge.

Palestinian leaders said the killing of Ismail Abu Shanab, a top aide to Hamas chief Ahmed Yassin, ruined what was to be an imminent campaign against militants by Palestinian security forces that would have included arrests and weapons roundups.

The militants called off their two-month-old cease-fire and promised more suicide bombings and other attacks on Israeli targets, raising the chances that a new round of Mideast violence will sink a U.S.-backed peace plan that aims to stop three years of violence and create a Palestinian state.

Hamas quickly dispatched squads of young activists in Gaza to launch homemade rockets into Israel. By Friday morning, six of the crude projectiles had been fired, damaging two houses but causing no injuries. More than a dozen mortars were also launched at Jewish settlements within Gaza, damaging another house.

Several high ranking Israeli military officials said on condition of anonymity that there were plans to kill other top Hamas leaders if there are new Palestinian suicide attacks and no efforts by Palestinian police forces to arrest extremists.

Speaking at the funeral of Abu Shanab, another Hamas leader, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, who survived an Israeli rocket attack on his car in June, said that if the Israelis kill him and other top militants, a secret leadership is ready to take over.

"They think that targeting leaders will stop Jihad (holy war). They are mistaken," he said. "All of us in Hamas from top to bottom are looking to become like Abu Shanab."

In the funeral procession in Gaza City, men carried the bodies of Abu Shanab and his two bodyguards. The streets echoed with shouts for revenge. Some in the crowd of tens of thousands chanted together a warning for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz: "Sharon and Mofaz listen very well, our retaliation will send you to hell."

A Palestinian suicide bombing on a Jerusalem bus on Tuesday killed 20 people, including six children, prompting Israel's strike on Abu Shanab, a 53-year-old Hamas leader and U.S.-educated civil engineer.

On Friday, Israel's Maariv newspaper published photos of 34 top Palestinian militants on a deck of cards in an imitation of the cards the U.S. military hands out to soldiers showing the faces of wanted Iraqis from Saddam Hussein's deposed government. The ace of hearts is Yassin. The joker is Yasser Arafat.

Khaled Batch, an Islamic Jihad leader who was the newspaper's pick for the nine of clubs, quipped in response, "We fear only God, not their cards."

An Israeli security source said all Hamas leaders were now considered fair targets and new strikes would be launched after a 24 hour lull to give Palestinians a chance to act on their own against militants. "We were waiting to see even just one Hamas arrest," he said.

Under the "road map" peace plan, launched on June 4, the Palestinians are required to dismantle Islamic and other militant groups.

After Tuesday's suicide attack in Jerusalem, aides to Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas said for the first time that he would go after militants, something he had previously rejected for fear of setting off a civil war. But those plans were scrapped after Israel's helicopter attack, which killed Abu Shanab and two bodyguards, the aides said.

Palestinian legislator Ziad Abu Zayyad said that the renewed violence threatens to topple the already weak prime minister - also known as Abu Mazen - who was appointed in April under pressure from U.S. and Israeli leaders searching for an alternative to Arafat.

"If this situation continues, Abu Mazen will not last long," Abu Zayyad said. "Those interested in Abu Mazen's success must pressure Israel to stop undermining his government."

Abbas, largely failing to win his own people's support because talks with Israel did not produce the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners, appeared to be losing confidence among Israelis as well.

A poll published on Friday, found that only 35 percent of Israelis thought peace talks with Abbas should continue following Tuesday's bombing. The survey of 501 adults by the Dahaf polling company was printed in the Yediot Ahronot newspaper and quoted a margin of error of 4.5 percent.

Israeli government spokesman Avi Pazner said Israel's strikes on militants were in self-defense and were necessary to move along the road to peace.

"The strategy is legitimate self-defense," he said. "We go only after those who hit us."

Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers again set up road blocks along Gaza's main north-south highway, effectively cutting the strip in half. Hundreds of motorists were stranded on the roadway, which had been briefly re-opened in one of the most significant gestures Israel had offered to improve the daily lives of ordinary Palestinians.

The military said it closed the road to try to stop the firing of rockets into Israel.

Egypt sent an adviser to President Hosni Mubarak, Osama el-Baz, to meet with Arafat, in an apparent effort to try to salvage the cease-fire. Israel Army Radio reported that the envoy was also to meet Israel's foreign minister.

In the West Bank, Israeli tanks and other armored vehicles rolled into the towns of Jenin, Tulkarem and Nablus for a second night of raids searching for wanted Palestinians. Troops used explosives to demolish three houses that belonged to the families of militants who carried out attacks. The Associated Press

Experts say China, which some call a fertile breeding ground for Internet worms because of rampant piracy of anti-virus software, could help spread the Sobig.F virus more quickly to other countries

BEIJING - An Internet worm that turns computers into spam machines has infected 30 percent of all e-mail users in China, the country's top Web security firm said on Friday.

More than 20 million users opened and passed along the Sobig.F virus - called the fastest spreading Web worm ever - to domestic and regional networks, Hao Ting, spokeswoman for Beijing Rising Technology Shareholding Co Ltd, told Reuters.

"We haven't seen anything spread so fast," she said by telephone. "It could get worse because there's very limited awareness of viruses and preventive measures."

Hao said the 30 percent figure was based on a study of the firm's one million regular customers and queries at its hotline.

The number could not be independently confirmed by the National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center, based in the northern city of Tianjin, which said it had not conducted its own survey.

Although Sobig.F does not shut down or paralyze infected computers, it can crash servers or slow down Windows operations. Messages can be identified by subject lines that say "Thank you," "Movies," "Details" or "Applications."

Hao said only about 60 to 70 percent of Internet users, a total of 68 million people in China by the end of June, had installed anti-virus software and only half of them updated regularly enough to protect against mutating viruses.

Unsuspecting Windows users who don't take precautions could receive mountains of junk mail, called "spam," that the virus was programmed to send. Users who open the malicious messages turn their own computers into spam relay stations, experts have said.

An unprotected public e-mail account set up by Rising to track Internet worms was flooded with 5,000 Sobig.F messages in just three hours on Thursday, Hao said.

China, which some call a fertile breeding ground for Internet worms because of rampant piracy of anti-virus software, could help spread the virus more quickly to other countries, experts said.

South Korean Internet security companies said damages from the Sobig.F virus were expected to be quite serious before the virus self-destructs in early September.

"There was a huge in jump of virus infections this morning," said Kim Jung-hee, a marketing executive at Seoul-based firm Coconut.Inc.

A survey by Coconut and British e-mail security firm MessageLabs said less than one percent of their clients in South Korea and Japan had been affected so far, compared to 38.8 percent in Britain and 31.5 percent in the United States. Reuters

The gunmen are believed to have shot one of the captives with a pistol, and a doctor was injured by a blow to the head with a rifle butt, the ministry says

VLADIKAVKAZ - Dozens of masked gunmen burst into a medical clinic near Chechnya and kidnapped five residents of the war-battered Russian region as they waited to see a doctor, police said on Friday.

Some 30 to 40 masked gunmen burst into the polyclinic at the Sunzha district hospital on Thursday, according to the Interior Ministry of the region of Ingushetia, next to Chechnya. Threatening to fire their weapons, the gunmen forced five people who were in the clinic's waiting room into two trucks. The gunmen are believed to have shot one of the captives with a pistol, and a doctor was injured by a blow to the head with a rifle butt, the ministry said.

A ministry official said on condition of anonymity that police believe the attackers were members of the security service of Chechnya's Moscow-appointed acting president, Akhmad Kadyrov.

Kadyrov's press service strongly denied the allegation, saying it could be an attempt to taint Kadyrov's image ahead of the Oct. 5 presidential election in Chechnya.

Residents of Chechnya and Chechen refugees in Ingushetia say the security service, headed by Kadyrov's son Ramzan and believed to number in the thousands, robs, kills and kidnaps civilians with impunity.

Kadyrov, a former mufti who sympathized with the militants before switching sides, is running in the election, but many Chechens distrust him. Some Russian rights groups predict he will use fraud and pressure to ensure his victory.

Russian officials are touting the election as a key step toward restoring peace.

In a statement distributed on Friday, 28 Chechen non-governmental organizations said they would boycott the vote and warned voters to expect fraud.

In another appeal, 31 prominent Russians challenged President Vladimir Putin on his refusal to negotiate with Chechen leaders.

"Mr. President, what number of Russian servicemen and civilians killed by military action, punitive operations or suicide terrorists would you consider horrifying enough to begin negotiations on ending the war with the opposition, the political leaders of the Chechen militants?" asked the signatories, who included Yelena Bonner, the widow of Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov; Lyudmila Alexeyeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki Group; and lawmaker Sergei Kovalyov.

In Grozny, about 300 residents of the Vedeno region blocked the road in front of the civilian administration for the sixth day in a row, demanding the release of residents detained during recent operations there.

"There won't be any presidential elections until they return the people they've kidnapped, until they stop kidnapping and killing in this republic," said protester Maina Abubakarova from the village of Markety.

Meanwhile, nine Russian servicemen were killed by a remote-controlled land mine on a road outside the Chechen capital, Grozny, the Interfax Military News Agency reported, citing a source in the military's headquarters in Chechnya.

Russian forces have been bogged down in Chechnya since 1999, when they returned to the region after Chechen raids on a neighboring region and a series of deadly apartment-house bombings in Russian cities that were blamed on the rebels. Before that, they fought a 1994-96 war with the militants that ended in a cease-fire and de facto independence for the region. The Associated Press

EXECUTIONS

RALEIGH - A man who shot and killed a plasterer who had stopped for coffee at a convenience store during a robbery was put to death by injection on Friday.

William Q. Jones, 34, was pronounced dead at 2:16 a.m. at Central Prison.

Jones had been on death row since 1987, when a Wake County Superior Court jury convicted him of killing Edward Peebles.

Jones winked at his lawyer and his relatives when he was brought into the execution chamber.

During the 10 minutes he waited for the injection of lethal drugs, he looked repeatedly at members of Peebles' family and said, "I'm sorry."

Just before he fell unconscious, Jones looked back at his uncle and lawyer and said "I'm gone." He then said "I love you" several times to family.

Jones was 18 when he came into the store and indiscriminately fired a submachine gun, killing Peebles, during a robbery on March 7, 1987. The shooting also injured another customer.

Jones pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, and two separate juries sentenced him to die.

His attorneys asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene, but the court refused without comment on Thursday to block the execution. Gov. Mike Easley also declined on Thursday to grant executive clemency. The Associated Press

RIYADH - A man was beheaded Friday for stabbing his father to death inside a mosque, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

Mashari bin Omair al-Shahrani stabbed his father several times in the chest and abdomen following an argument just before Friday prayers, the agency said. The report did not elaborate and did not give the date of the crime.

Al-Shahrani was beheaded in the southwestern Asir region, the statement added.

Friday's execution raised the number of beheadings this year to 34. Last year, at least 49 people - including two women - were executed in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia follows a strict interpretation of Islam under which people convicted of murder, rape, drug trafficking and armed robbery are executed. Beheadings are carried out with a sword in public. The Associated Press

Former presidential candidate Alan Keyes delivers a fiery speech, saying the efforts of courts and government to stifle religion must end

MONTGOMERY - Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore lost a last-minute appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to save a Ten Commandments monument he installed in a judicial building, clearing the way for its removal.

The high court on Wednesday rejected Moore's emergency plea for a stay, declining to be drawn into a dispute over whether the 5,300-pound (2,385-kilogram), granite monument violates the U.S. Constitution's ban on government promotion of religion.

After the court acted, Montgomery police handcuffed 21 Moore supporters who had kneeled and stood at the monument inside the building rotunda and refused to leave. They were taken to the Montgomery County Jail and charged with trespassing, said Chief Deputy Derrick Cunningham.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson had set a midnight Wednesday deadline for the monument's removal. He was not expected to take immediate action to remove the display.

Several hundred supporters of Moore gathered on the judicial building steps Wednesday night for a rally.

Former presidential candidate Alan Keyes delivered a fiery speech, saying the efforts of courts and government to stifle religion must end.

"This must end or freedom will end with it," Keyes said. "No longer can we tolerate this crime that is being done against our movement for almighty God."

Thompson has threatened $5,000-a-day fines if his order is ignored after the deadline. Attorneys who sued to force removal of the monument said they expected to file a contempt of court petition against Moore that Thompson may consider in a conference call later on Friday, setting the stage for fines.

"It's time for Roy's rock to roll," said Ayesha Khan, an attorney for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, one of the groups that sued.

Moore installed the monument two years ago in the middle of the night after being elected chief justice amid publicity of his support of the Ten Commandments. In Washington, D.C., one of Moore's attorneys, Phillip Jauregui, said the judge was sticking by his pledge to defy Thompson's order.

"The statement that the chief made last Thursday still stands," Jauregui said. Other Alabama officials could move the monument.

Moore issued a statement saying he still plans to appeal to the Supreme Court on the merits of the case.

The Supreme Court has never ruled on the constitutionality of such indoor and outdoor government displays. In 1980, the court barred Ten Commandments from classroom walls in public schools.

An appeals court had twice refused to give Moore a stay, setting up the plea at the high court.

Moore already has asked the Supreme Court to consider whether Thompson overstepped his bounds in the case, and a second appeal of the ruling in the Ten Commandments case is expected. Those could take months to resolve. The Associated Press

The killings, in which each victim is shot once at night in the head or neck, have evoked comparisons with last year's Washington-area sniper shootings that left 10 people dead and three wounded before the two males were arrested

CHARLESTON - Authorities hunting a possible serial sniper in West Virginia said that all three people gunned down at Charleston-area convenience stores last week were killed by the same .22 caliber weapon.

Forensic tests of bullet fragments retrieved from the scene of the first murder on Aug. 10 showed that 44-year-old victim Gary Carrier died from a single bullet fired by the same gun that killed a man and a woman four days later.

"We know it came from the same weapon. It helps us in our case," said Charleston Police Chief Jerry Pauley, in whose city jurisdiction Carrier's murder occurred.

The other two victims - Jeanie Patton, 31, and Okey Meadows, 26 - were killed outside the city in areas policed by the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office.

The killings, in which each victim was shot once at night in the head or neck, have evoked comparisons with last year's Washington-area sniper shootings that left 10 people dead and three wounded before the two males were arrested.

Federal agents who helped with the Washington-area sniper investigation have joined a West Virginia emergency task force of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

"This is a significant development. It's exactly why the Charleston police asked for assistance," Patrick Berarducci, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, said of the latest ballistics test results.

Police have long suspected that the three West Virginia victims were killed by a .22 caliber rifle. But up to now, forensic tests had shown only that the same weapon was used to kill Patton and Meadows.

Those two victims, both of Campbells Creek, West Virginia, were killed Aug. 14 at two different convenience stores in rural communities near Charleston.

Authorities have been exploring possible drug links to the Patton and Meadows cases since speaking to Campbells Creek residents including a relative of one of the victims.

But Pauley said that there was nothing to suggest that Carrier's murder was drug-related.

Investigators are searching for a dark-colored pickup truck, possibly a Ford F-150, which witnesses say they saw at the scene of the two Aug. 14 shootings with a large white man behind the wheel.

Late on Wednesday, a 16-year-old girl told police she heard a bullet whiz past her head at a gas-station convenience store outside Charleston. A Kanawha County sheriff's deputy later spotted a pickup truck speeding down a nearby highway and gave chase but lost sight of the vehicle.

Police said later that they were unable to find evidence of any shot being fired at the girl.

The girl's report surfaced amid signs of discord between Kanawha County Sheriff Dave Tucker and other top officials of the investigating task force, which includes Charleston police, state police, the FBI, ATF, federal marshals and the U.S. Secret Service.

Pauley announced on Thursday that task force officials would no longer join the sheriff's daily media updates unless there were new developments to report. The daily updates have at times offered the news media speculative and conflicting information.

"Some people feel like they know best," one member of the task force said. "We will say what we feel is right, when we feel it is right." Reuters

About 11,500 troops of the US-led coalition are in Afghanistan hunting down remnants of the ousted Taliban regime and their allies. Activity by alleged Taliban remnants has increased with a string of attacks in the country's south and east

KABUL - A U.S. special operations soldier has been killed in action in eastern Afghanistan, U.S. military said on Friday, while in a neighboring province coalition troops arrested four people and seized weapons stored in caves by insurgents.

The soldier died from wounds after operations near Orgun in Paktika province on Wednesday, a statement on the US. military Central Command Web site said.

The statement issued in Tampa, Florida, said the soldier's name was being withheld pending notification of the next of kin.

On Thursday, U.S. military in Afghanistan announced that another coalition soldier had been slightly injured by a bomb while on patrol in the same region on the same day. It was not immediately clear whether the two incidents were linked.

About 11,500 troops of the U.S.-led coalition are in Afghanistan hunting down remnants of the ousted Taliban regime and their allies.

Activity by alleged Taliban remnants has increased with a string of attacks in the country's south and east.

This includes two deadly raids on Afghan police in Paktika last weekend - reportedly launched by hundreds of guerrillas traveling in pickup trucks from the direction of neighboring Pakistan - a key U.S. ally in the war on terror.

The increased violence comes amid unconfirmed reports that Mullah Mohammed Omar, the leader of the Taliban regime ousted in late 2001, has reorganized his fighters into regional commands.

Meanwhile, Col. Rodney Davis, spokesman at Bagram Air Base - the U.S.-led coalition's headquarters in Afghanistan - said Friday special operations soldiers raided weapons caches used by insurgents in eastern Khost province and arrested four people.

In Wednesday's raid, the coalition seized missiles, small arms ammunition, Russian and Chinese 60 mm mortar rounds, anti-personnel mines, automatic weapons and hand grenades. The weaponry was found stored in two weapons compounds and three caves in the vicinity of the Neka Valley.

"Four persons were taken under control and the ordnance was seized and transported to Khost for destruction at a later date," Davis said in a statement.

Meanwhile, two rockets landed in the vicinity of the coalition firebase at Surmad in Paktia province late Thursday, but caused no damage or injuries, the statement said. Such rocket attacks occur frequently, usually missing their target. The Associated Press

HANOI - An elderly Vietnamese man thought to have died in a hospital revived after spending the night in the morgue, state media and a doctor said on Friday.

Nguyen Van Quan, 73, was declared dead and taken to a Ho Chi Minh City hospital morgue on the night of Aug. 15 but was found alive by his daughter the next morning as she was retrieving the body for the funeral, the Vietnam News daily said.

"I was shocked and frightened when I saw the blanket that covered my father moving," Quan's daughter was quoted as saying. "When the morgue's officials pulled back the blanket, my father's eyes moved, brightening with joy."

A doctor at the Nguyen Tri Phuong hospital, where Quan had been admitted after complaining of chest pain, told Reuters: "He is now still in the emergency section."

After Quan's heart failed and he was declared dead, the man was placed in the morgue where he was laid for seven hours among corpses.

The doctor declined to elaborate on the case but said investigations into the incident were under way. Reuters

Chirac promises 'everything will be done' to correct failings in the health system. He also levels criticism at the public, saying many elderly victims 'died alone in their homes'

Agriculture Minister Herve Gaymard estimated that the damage to French farms is between 1 billion euros and 4 billion euros (US$1.1 billion to $4.4 billion)

PARIS - Even as it continued to count the dead from a heat wave estimated to have killed 10,000 people, France's government turned its attention Friday to devastated farmers whose animals died and whose crops withered under the sun.

Agriculture Minister Herve Gaymard estimated that the damage to French farms was between 1 billion euros and 4 billion euros (US$1.1 billion to $4.4 billion).

"Everyone knows the cost is high for farmers, and national solidarity must play a role," he told Europe-1 radio. Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin was to host talks with farmers' representatives later in the day.

Jean-Michel Lemetayer, president of the FNSEA farmers union, said agriculture was devastated.

"The atmosphere in the countryside is extremely morose," he told The Associated Press. "Every day without rain aggravates the situation."

On Thursday, President Jacques Chirac made his first comments on the heat wave crisis, promising "everything will be done" to correct failings in the health system that was overwhelmed by victims.

He also leveled criticism at the public, saying many elderly victims "died alone in their homes."

"These dramas again shed light on the solitude of many of our aged or handicapped citizens," said Chirac, who has been criticized by opposition politicians and newspapers for not speaking about the heat crisis earlier.

France's longest and hottest heat wave, with temperatures that topped 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in the first two weeks of August, probably caused some 10,000 deaths, said Hubert Falco, secretary of state for the elderly. The government says a complete death toll is still being compiled.

In a separate interview with Friday's edition of the newspaper Le Monde, Falco said the crisis showed France is coping badly with aging, a problem shared by many developed nations.

Falco said "mortality linked to the heat wave was highest" among people over 85 - who now number 1.2 million in France, and in 10 years will total 2.4 million.

But nearly 80 percent of retirement facilities are short-staffed, he said. "Our society was not prepared," Falco said.

Falco told another newspaper, La Provence, that he envisions a new emergency action plan for retirement homes, where many victims died. He said he wants to be able to mobilize personnel quickly in case of disasters and decentralize decision-making.

While other European governments have not reported the huge death toll of France, signs are emerging of significant spikes in deaths in several countries where temperatures also soared.

The Central Bureau for Statistics said the heat claimed 500-1,000 lives in the Netherlands, and Portugal's Health Ministry estimated more than 1,300 dead.

Germany, which was not as hot and is counting its dead more slowly, has tallied just 30 heat-related deaths.

Italy's Health Ministry has refused to give figures, but calls by The Associated Press to several major cities found marked increases in deaths compared with last year. Genoa had 693 in the first 18 days of August, compared with 475 in the whole month last year. In Turin, 732 died, more than 500 of them aged over 70, compared with 388 last year.

In France, morgues and funeral homes overflowed with bodies, hospitals struggled, and painful questions are being asked about why so many elderly people were left alone.

"People have lost their sense of responsibility," said Nadia Finkielman, lending moral support to a grieving friend at a Paris morgue where mourning families prepared to bury their dead. "They think the government is going to resolve every problem in their life." Paris - The Associated Press

LONDON - Iran's former ambassador to Argentina was due to appear in a British court on Friday to face possible extradition for the 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center that killed 85 people.

Iran said Thursday's arrest of former Ambassador Hadi Soleimanpour was politically motivated and had no legal grounds.

Soleimanpour, 47, was arrested by British police on an international warrant issued by Argentina for conspiracy to murder in connection with a car-bomb attack on the AMIA Jewish Community Center that killed 85 people.

The United States and Israel have long said they suspected Iran was behind the attack. Iran strongly denies involvement.

Soleimanpour was one of eight Iranians ordered arrested by an Argentinian judge last week in connection with the attack.

He is believed to have been living in the northern English city of Durham since February last year, when he entered the country on a student visa to study at Durham University.

He was due to appear later on Friday at Bow Street Magistrates Court, a clerk said, for the first phase of a complicated British extradition process that would normally take months to reach a conclusion.

"The rulings lack judicial and legal basis and are merely politically motivated," Iran's state television quoted foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi as saying.

"This measure was politically motivated under the influence of the Zionist regime," he said, referring to Israel.

The case has had domestic political implications in Argentina, where former President Carlos Menem has denied a report in the New York Times last year that he took a bribe from Iran to cover up its involvement in the attack.

Menem's government initially implicated Iranian-backed militants from the Lebanese group Hizbollah, but the Iran lead was lost in a slow investigation plagued by disappearing witnesses and unexplained delays.

In June, newly elected President Nestor Kirchner ordered the release of secret files of the intelligence services related to the bombing, which was hailed as a breakthrough in the case.

Asefi said Argentina would have to "assume responsibility for the judicial and political consequences of such a measure which runs counter to...international regulations", the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.

Asefi said Iran would take all necessary steps to secure Soleimanpour's release, including talks with British officials.

Tehran withdrew its ambassador from Argentina to protest about its implication in the bombing but retains a mission in Buenos Aires. Reuters

PARIS - Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said on Friday he was hoping for an imminent deal from Libya on a bigger compensation package for families of victims in the 1989 bombing of a French airliner.

De Villepin told RTL Radio that he spoke to representatives of the families before they left for Libya on Thursday.

"We want to hope that these discussions can reach a successful conclusion," he said.

The issue of compensation for the UTA bombing is viewed as a potential sticking point for Britain's proposal to lift United Nations sanctions against Libya. France could use its veto on the Security Council to block the British proposal.

The proposal came after Libya agreed to accept responsibility for another airplane attack - the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland. It agreed to pay US$2.7 billion to relatives of the 270 victims.

France has been embarrassed by the smaller compensation package for victims of the French airliner bombing and wants to renegotiate an earlier deal for UTA families before agreeing to lift sanctions.

In a 1999 deal, France got only US$33 million for families of the 170 people killed in the UTA bombing. It now wants a settlement on par with the Lockerbie agreement.

"It's obviously up to the Libyans to find solutions with the victims' families," de Villepin said. "I think it's possible. We want to succeed."

U.N. diplomats said this week they would give France more time to reach an agreement before voting to lift sanctions against the North African country, though they stressed that France must act quickly.

Britain's resolution would immediately end a ban on arms sales and air links with Libya. The sanctions were suspended in 1999 after the two Libyans were handed over for trial. The Associated Press.

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At Baghdad hotel and hospital, blood mixes with tears of a war-torn city.

By Mark McCord.
817 words
19 August 2003
Agence France Presse
English
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003 All reproduction and presentation rights reserved.

From the devastation of the Canal Hotel to the anguished cries of families of the dead at the nearby Al-Kindi Hospital, Tuesday's car-bomb attack on a UN compound in Baghdad struck another sickening blow to this war-ravaged city.

As quickly as US troops could lift the dead and injured to open-topped army trucks outside the hotel's smouldering remains, another batch of mutilated figures staggered or were dragged to the roadside, ready for the surgery room or the morgue.

Tuesday afternoon's blast ripped an entire corner from the hotel, and scores of onlookers outside could only gape at the devastation that lay behind the concrete walls of the UN-adopted compound.

Twisted steel and reinforcement wire hung from the rent in the yellow-brick wall and smoke rose from nearby UN vehicles set alight by the explosion.

"The ceiling fell down, the windows and metal bars blew in," said Mouna Naim, a reporter for French newspaper Le Monde. "The electricity was cut and we were full of dust. We didn't know where we were walking.

"The hall was totally devastated and it took me some time to get outside.

It was carnage."

Within half an hour, at least 30 US troop vehicles had lined the major road leading to the compound, backing up traffic into the city centre.

Amid chaotic scenes outside the compound, soldiers atop armed-to-the-teeth military vehicles hysterically called for calm as UN workers and hotel staff - some of them pouring blood from head wounds - crowded at the gate eager for news of their friends and colleagues inside.

"We stopped to take out the victims," added Naim. "Some were very seriously injured on the shoulder, on the back, back of the neck and on the chest.

"People were lying down, some women were crying, others were shaking and some were cool. People were crying, were shouting and searching for their friends."

Army vehicles, police cars and stunned UN workers who had been inside the hotel when the attack happened jostled for space on the road outside, either trying to leave the scene or to get back in to help the rescue effort.

"Everybody was helping each other, it was remarkable," said Naim.

Ten minutes away at the Al-Kindi Hospital, grieving family members of the dead and injured filled the squalid corridors, the walls smeared with the blood of the some 30 people taken there by ambulance.

Every 10 minutes or so an ambulance would arrive with another bloodied charge. Dozens gathered at their opening doors, apprehensively waiting to see if this delivery was a loved one or a friend.

In the admissions hallway, elderly women in traditional black Islamic garb crouched on the floor tearfully fingering strings of prayer beads.

Younger women similarly dressed, held each other for support, their legs buckling beneath them as grief rendered them immovable.

Hisham al-Taee, the brother of the translator to Sergio Vieira De Mello, the UN's top man in Iraq who was killed in the car bomb, wept as he was reunited with two friends outside the hospital entrance.

"Thank God you are well, thank God you are alive," he cried, as he kissed his friends with relief.

"But where is Ahmed? Where is my brother?"

Ahmed had been treated and discharged minutes earlier, he later discovered.

"He drove off in his Beetle. He is alive," al-Taee cried.

For two other men, the news was not so good. They held each other and cried loudly in a nearby doorway, their tears drawing black lines of grime down their dusty faces.

Inside the hospital, the injured sat stunned, awaiting treatment and covered in filthy bandages.

"I think I was lucky," said one Canadian UN worker whose office in the hotel was destroyed in the blast.

"My office-chair shielded me from the mortar and rubble that fell in," he added, blood seeping through a bandage around the crown of his head.

Al-Kindi hospital was filthy. Gathered crowds, many of them onlookers, smoked cigarettes in the surgery rooms as victims were being treated. And gurneys improvised from office chairs and food trolleys wheeled patients through hallways lined with rubbish and discarded cigarette ends.

For two hours after the explosion, ambulances had to fight through throngs of battered cars to get the injured in and out of the hospital.

It was so short of equipment and staff that onlookers and passers-by had to help lift one victim, a large Iraqi policeman stripped to his white underpants and pouring blood from his head and limbs, into an ambulance.

Fifteen minutes later, the vehicle managed to pull away, but only at a snail's pace, its driver honking to clear a path through the milling crowds.

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Crime wave in Iraqi capital - 47 times as many gunshot deaths as a year ago

By NIKO PRICE
Associated Press Writer
1,014 words
9 August 2003
10:43
Associated Press Newswires
English
Copyright 2003. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Baghdad is at the height of a summer that is long, hot - and violent. As police return to the war-shattered streets to try to restore order, they are finding themselves in the middle of an unprecedented crime wave.

While the state-sponsored violence of Saddam Hussein's regime is gone, so is the iron fist of the police state it used to keep Iraqis in check. Police have no crime statistics yet, but Baghdad's morgue handled 47 times as many gunshot deaths in July as in the same month a year ago.

Officials attribute the violence to a variety of causes: looting and robbery; the settling of scores from the Saddam era; the release of many criminals just before the war; and gunfire by American soldiers, who many Iraqis accuse of opening fire randomly when they feel threatened.

"We had some criminals before the war, but after the war everything changed," Baghdad's acting police chief, Maj. Gen. Hassan Ali al-Obeidi, told The Associated Press. "The reasons are social, psychological and economic. Even the weather makes people nervous."

Crime was much worse in the days immediately after the war when there were no police on the streets. Looters stripped government offices - including police stations - then set them ablaze. Enemies took advantage of the lawlessness to kill one another. Robbery, kidnapping and rape were common.

But at that time, residents who could stay off the streets did, treating their city like the war zone it was. Now, people are returning to work as U.S. and Iraqi authorities strive to restore a normal life.

Some 5,000 police officers are back on the streets of Baghdad, says Bernard Kerik, the former New York police commissioner overseeing the rebuilding of the police force. He says Iraqi officers are handling 80 percent of cases, with Americans taking care of the rest.

"There are many more patrols than 10 weeks ago, and many more arrests," he said this week. "People are now more confident to leave their houses."

But police officers complain about their equipment. Although the Americans have given them radios and a few bulletproof vests, there aren't enough pistols and ammunition is scarce. At one station responsible for an area with a population of 700,000, officers have one working vehicle - a bus.

Neither Kerik nor al-Obeidi had crime statistics. Perhaps the best gauge lies in the courtyard of Baghdad's central morgue, where families arrive with foul-smelling wooden boxes, presenting bodies of loved ones for autopsies and death certificates.

The morgue, which handles all violent or suspicious deaths, recorded 10 gunfire deaths in July 2002. This July it handled 470, said the director, Dr. Fa'aq Amin Bakr.

In normal times, Bakr said, gunshots account for less than 10 percent of Baghdad's unnatural deaths, with the bulk coming from traffic accidents, drownings, burns and asphyxia. In July, more than half of the 702 bodies brought in had died from bullets, he said.

Bakr refused to grant access to the morgue's records, saying they were off limits under Saddam and nobody has told him to change that policy.

Doctors who examine the bodies say some of the deaths appear to be caused by U.S. weapons.

"We get three or four bodies every day whose families say they were shot by the Americans," said Dr. Qeis Hassan. "If the bullet is still in the body we can tell. The bullet's shape is different" from the Kalashnikovs typically used by Iraqis.

Outside the morgue, men unloading coffins into the hot, fetid courtyard vowed revenge.

"This is my wife and my sister," said Jamil Sultan Hachim al-Tamimi, a 45-year-old chicken farmer with two boxes. "We were driving and a car's tire blew out. The Americans thought it was a grenade and started firing randomly."

He said he would bury the bodies, then turn his thoughts to vengeance.

"We have to avenge these women," agreed Mohammed Hamid, a 38-year-old driver who said his brother was shot by a U.S. soldier. "As a tribe we will demand retribution from the Americans. According to the Quran, if someone is killed, the tribe must kill the killer."

Al-Obeidi blames much of the crime surge on Iraqi criminals who Saddam ordered freed from prisons by the thousands in October. But he acknowledged crime didn't take off until after the war - five months later.

He agreed some deaths are caused by American soldiers "who make mistakes," but he said more of the killings can be attributed to the settling of scores, some against members of the former regime.

"People loyal to the regime used to hurt citizens," al-Obeidi said. "Now, it's a chance for the citizens to take revenge."

A car bombing outside the Jordanian Embassy that killed at least 19 people and injured more than 50 on Thursday suggested terrorism may be a new worry for police. U.S. commanders said it was up to the Iraqi police to protect "soft targets" like diplomatic missions.

Some violence is directed at U.S. soldiers, although in those cases the victims don't end up at the Baghdad morgue. Since May 1, when U.S. President George W. Bush declared major combat over, at least 55 American soldiers have been killed in action in Iraq.

Al-Obeidi said police investigators are beginning to have some successes against crime, breaking up a counterfeiting ring, impounding stolen cars and raiding the safehouse of a kidnapping ring, rescuing a man and a woman who police say had been tortured.

"With the will of God, we will capture all the criminals and everything will be normal again," he said. "In a few months it will be better. I wish it could be tomorrow, but I can't say it will be."

---

EDITOR'S NOTE - Niko Price is correspondent-at-large for The Associated Press.

Rush

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A

RAPE (AND SILENCE ABOUT IT) HAUNTS BAGHDAD

By NEELA BANERJEE
137 words
16 July 2003
The New York Times Abstracts
1
English
(c) 2003 New York Times Company

Iraqi women grow increasingly afraid of being abducted and raped in Baghdad since end of war and outbreak of anarchy on streets; physicians, law enforcement and families say such crimes have increased in society where shame of rape is so strong that many families blame victims; sister of nine-year-old girl named Sanariya says parents and brothers have beaten child daily since she was raped by stranger seven weeks ago, and morgue gets corpses of women killed by relatives; many women and girls are too frightened to go to work or school and victims are ignored or humiliated when they try to report crimes; US police adviser Bernard B Kerik tells of firing precinct chief for failing to search for missing teenager; photos (M)

Photograph

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NATION; INSIDE THE RING

[ INSIDE THE RING ]

Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
1,006 words
11 July 2003
The Washington Times
A05
English
Copyright (c) 2003 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

Baghdad report

We have obtained a classified report from the Pentagon dated Dec. 9, 1991, that quotes an Iraqi refrigerator technician. The technician said he saw the bodies of three American servicemen that were being kept at a morgue of the Al Rashidia hospital in Baghdad.

The report, labeled "secret," states that while the technician was making repairs on the hospital's refrigeration unit, he was told that the Iraqis were holding the three Americans' bodies in the morgue and was shown their identification cards.

The bodies were covered in dried blood and had grayish uniforms with U.S. Air Force insignia. The source also said he had seen the bodies of a Saudi soldier and a British soldier at the morgue.

It could not be learned what action was taken to pursue the technician's claims.

But the report, sent from the Defense Attache Office in Amman, Jordan, is the kind of intelligence information that a special team now in Iraq is pursuing to resolve the case of a missing Navy pilot, Capt. Michael Scott Speicher. He was lost when his F-18 was shot down in January 1991 near Baghdad.

So far, Capt. Speicher's fate has not been determined, although new evidence was uncovered in Iraq in the form of the initials "MSS" carved into a prison wall.

New carrier forward

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and top Pentagon planners are discussing whether to deploy a second U.S. aircraft carrier battle group "forward" in the Pacific.

Currently, the 12 U.S. carrier battle groups are split evenly between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. But with the growing threat from communist China and the nuclear crisis still unresolved in North Korea, planners are looking at moving a carrier group to either Hawaii or Guam. Aircraft carriers have not been based in Hawaii since World War II.

"Certainly with Iraq gone as a threat now and constant need for a carrier presence in the Persian Gulf, it would make sense to shift forces toward the Pacific," a defense official told us.

Adm. Robert Natter, head of the Fleet Forces Command, is conducting a review of Navy deployments worldwide as part of a major Pentagon review. Adm. Natter said in a speech last May that the threats from Asia call for "a shift in resources to the Pacific from the Atlantic."

Recently, two U.S. attack submarines were moved to new homeports at Guam and a third submarine is expected soon. Eventually four attack submarines will be based there to deal with hot spots ranging from Indonesia to the Taiwan Strait.

The Air Force also has moved B-1 and B-52 bombers to Guam and the service also has stockpiled air-launched cruise missiles there, a move that drew protests from the Chinese government.

China is expected to complain loudly about any carrier deployment to Hawaii or Guam. Beijing views the U.S. military as its main foe in the future and is developing missile capabilities designed to sink U.S. carriers and warships.

Currently, three carriers are based in San Diego and two are in Washington state. A sixth is based in Yokuska, Japan.

Plodding along

The White House this week sent the nomination of Air Force Secretary James Roche to the Senate, despite vows from some opponents to block his appointment as Army secretary.

A women's group is circulating several letters to members asking them to oppose Mr. Roche's nomination. In addition, the nominee is likely to receive rough treatment from some Senate Armed Services Committee members. Some don't like the tanker lease deal negotiated with Boeing Co. Others do not like his handling of the sex scandal at the Air Force Academy.

"Has the nomination gone forward? Yes," said an administration official. "Am I sure he's going to make it? No. You never know how these things play until the hearings."

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is doing some personnel fine- tuning at his two-plus-years point. Believing the Army was slow to reform, Mr. Rumsfeld fired Army Secretary Thomas White in April. He also replaced the retiring Army chief of staff with an unconventional choice: retired Army Gen. Peter Schoomaker, who spent most of his career as a commando.

Iraqi brief

Gen. Richard Myers, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, unleashed some interesting facts at a closed-door briefing in May at the Naval War College. We obtained a copy of the briefing slides.

He told officers that Operation Iraq Freedom was marked by three joint warfighting improvements: improved lethality, improved intelligence and improved command and control.

The lethality, he said, allowed the military to target the regime, and "not annihilation of enemy army." Precision strikes allowed a buildup of "fewer but more effective forces."

Rug rats

Members of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division were forced to burn valuable Iranian rugs at the Baghdad International airport. The reason: fleas and sand flies.

Soldiers started coming down with skin diseases shortly after moving into the airport, which contained its own palace for Saddam Hussein and Ba'ath Party rulers.

Doctors traced the skin lesions to bugs buried deep inside the carpet fabric, so soldiers began burning hundreds of the rugs to rid the division of the infestation.

One officer described the rugs as the best Esfanhans, Qums and Nain carpets that can be bought, some as large as 30 feet by 60 feet. The office said the carpets may have been worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

* Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough are Pentagon reporters. Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at bgertz@washingtontimes.com. Scarborough can be reached at 202/636- 3208 or by e-mail. at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.

Caption: Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told officers that the war in Iraq was characterized by improvements in lethality, intelligence and command and control. [Photo by AP]

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Baghdad's Morgue Illustrates What's Happening on the City's Streets.

By Tim Potter, The Wichita Eagle, Kan.
1,001 words
22 May 2003
KRTBN Knight-Ridder Tribune Business News: Wichita Eagle
English
Copyright (C) 2003 KRTBN Knight Ridder Tribune Business News

May 22-BAGHDAD, Iraq - If there's one place that illustrates the street violence and mayhem plaguing Baghdad, it's the city morgue. In a month of operation since the war ended, morgue officials recorded 191 deaths from gunfire, compared with 10 to 15 per month before the war.

Morgue officials said Wednesday that in January they recorded 13 gunshot deaths, then six in February and six from March 1 through March 19, when the war began. The 191 deaths were from April 14, when the morgue resumed operations after the war, through May 15.

In addition, thousands of people have been wounded by street shootings or gun-related accidents, hospital officials say.

These figures are the best records available to show the dramatic increase in gun deaths in the lawless weeks since the war ended. Iraqi police and U.S. military officials have no complete records of gun-related deaths. And there's no other way to count the number of people whose deaths were never officially listed.

"We are very aware of the concerns of the Iraqi people for security. There certainly is a law and order problem, especially at night," L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator leading efforts to rebuild Iraq, said Wednesday.

American officials are expected Friday to announce new measures aimed at getting weapons off the streets. Officials say these might include weapons registration and a prohibition on gun bazaars. U.S. soldiers already seize weapons they find in public.

Across the capital, home to 5 million people, the rampant gunfire has changed how people live. Many parents keep their children out of school, and women who usually drive around the city have stopped venturing out. Stores and restaurants close early. People avoid driving at night, well before the 11 p.m. curfew. Many places have no streetlights because the electricity is out, so bandits can hide on the dark streets.

"I used to stay out to 12 or 1 to have a drink with a friend," said 38-year-old businessman Kais al Kadhy. Now he won't stay out later than 8 p.m. His wife is afraid to leave their home.

At the morgue, precise information about the nature of the deaths is difficult to come by. The Iraqi police department - decimated by looting at police stations, and struggling to mount extensive patrols even with the backing of U.S. military police - has yet to resume thorough homicide investigations. Families who bring their dead to the morgue often aren't forthcoming.

Among the scores of bodies that had arrived in the past six days were two men identified by morgue officials as an Iraqi police major and police brigadier, reportedly killed Tuesday. One had 10 entry wounds, and the other had seven, a morgue official said. Details of their deaths were unavailable, but morgue officials said they heard that the two men had been carjacking victims.

Every day, cars pull up with homemade coffins strapped to the tops. Relatives bring the bodies of loved ones to obtain death certificates and autopsies.

On Wednesday, Taha Kudair, 65, rested outside the morgue. He had helped transport the body of his 62-year-old cousin, who had been shot to death.

Kudair said he didn't know how his cousin was shot, but he blamed the death on the lawlessness.

"We can do nothing," he said. "If you go to the market, you will be killed. If you go in your car, you will be killed. We live without security."

Although the morgue has never been busier, it closes at 2 p.m. so workers can get home before dark, when street violence is worst, said morgue official Abdul Razak al Obaidi. Before the war, it was open 24 hours.

Some deaths appear to have occurred during thefts, and some were revenge killings, Obaidi said. Some of the dead were shot by people recklessly firing AK-47 rifles into the air.

Most of the gunshot victims at the morgue have been men. About 10 percent have been children. Only one or two have been women.

In three of the 191 bodies that came to the morgue, medical examiners found smaller-caliber bullets that appeared to have come from weapons used by U.S. soldiers, Obaidi said. But, by far, most of the bullets found in the dead came from AK-47's, which U.S. troops don't normally use.

Hospitals are seeing scores of wounded each day. At a field hospital that the Saudi Arabian military set up, Saudi doctors have treated hundreds of gunshot victims since the war ended.

One, 11-year-old Walid Abass, was hit by a bullet in his knee when looters descended on his home. Walid was hit by a bullet meant for his father, relatives said. Ahmed Abass, the boy's uncle, said such a crime wouldn't have occurred before the war. On Wednesday, he cradled the crying boy while a doctor cleaned the wound, crisscrossed by stitches.

At al Kargk Hospital, Dr. Mohammad Hamed said the emergency room was receiving at least 10 to 15 gunshot victims on many days. One of the wounded, 23-year-old Ahmed Nasser, said he was walking one recent evening with his children when something - it felt like a stone - hit him in the face.

He awoke in the hospital, soaked in blood. An X-ray found that a bullet had lodged in the roof of his mouth after hitting his cheek. His face remains bruised and swollen. A small red hole marks the bullet's entry. Doctors were waiting for the swelling to subside before they removed the slug. Nasser said he didn't know who fired it.

-

To see more of The Wichita Eagle, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.kansas.com

(c) 2003, The Wichita Eagle, Kan. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

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WORLD

In Baghdad, a surge in homicides ; The city's morgue has seen a 60 percent rise in gunshot killings over the past 10 days.

Peter Ford Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
1,462 words
16 May 2003
Christian Science Monitor
ALL
01
English
Copyright (c) 2003 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

BAGHDAD

Hamid Turki winced as the emergency-room doctor inspected a wound in his hip. Under the glare of neon lights, his face was pale.

Mr. Turki was the eighth gunshot victim Mohammed Nouri had seen by midnight Wednesday at the Al Kindi Hospital in central Baghdad. The doctor stepped back from his patient and sighed. "We don't have even 1 percent security now," he said.

Five weeks after US troops entered Iraq's capital, reconstruction has taken a backseat to security. "There are a number of problems, in particular the problem of law and order in Baghdad," L. Paul Bremer, the new chief civilian administrator for Iraq, said yesterday. He appeared to be introducing a get-tough policy, pledging the US would beef up infantry and military police forces.

Mr. Bremer's comments acknowledged a reality Faik Amin Bakr understands all too well. On Wednesday night, the director of the Baghdad morgue counted through his register of violent deaths. There have been 124 over the past 10 days, he says, almost all gunshot homicides. That marks a 60 percent rise over the previous 10-day period, despite claims by US officials here that the security situation is improving.

"We are aggressively targeting looters" as they turn their attention from public buildings to their fellow citizens, said Maj. Gen. Buford "Buff" Blount, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division that has occupied the capital. "We have refocused our soldiers." (see related story)

But in a city where armed carjackings and armed robberies are increasingly common, where many parents do not send their children to school for fear they will be abducted, and where gunfire is heard constantly, violence is claiming growing numbers of victims.

"The trend is going up because there is no control," Dr. Bakr complains. "Everybody can carry a gun in his pocket."

Gunfire by the hospital

As Turki lay on a gurney in the Al Kindi emergency room, a pressure pad taped over his injury, gunfire crackled on the other side of the hospital wall. Doctors and orderlies sitting outside in the breezy courtyard laughed nervously and shrugged.

An hour later, they jumped up as a Red Crescent ambulance drove in. Flinging the doors open, they pulled out a man in white running shorts and brown T-shirt.

Nadim Zeidan had been walking with his brother and uncle, he told the doctors who inspected his shattered leg, when unseen men opened fire on them.

His uncle was in critical condition at another hospital, shot in the neck. His brother was dead, according to a doctor who had brought Mr. Zeidan to Al Kindi. Zeidan explained that his father had been a prominent member of Saddam Hussein's Baath party.

Revenge killings

"There have been revenge killings, and I'd expect we have not seen the last of it," Lt. Gen. David McKiernan, chief of US ground forces in Iraq, warned last week.

Independent observers expect worse. As more and more mass graves are discovered in Iraq, and people find out exactly what happened to their relatives who disappeared, "our prediction is ... there will be a huge spike in revenge killings," says Saman Zia-Zarifi, a researcher here with Human Rights Watch.

US authorities here are also worried that Baathists themselves are "actively and aggressively seeking to defeat, discredit, and disrupt coalition operations," General McKiernan said Wednesday.

Senior US officials have said the Iraqi power grid has been a prime target. Key insulators and power lines have been shot out, and parts have been looted from power plants and relay stations.

"These groups continue to intimidate and terrorize their fellow citizens," McKiernan added.

Most US forces would target them, not ordinary looters, he said. But thieves will henceforth be held for at least three weeks, he announced, rather than being let go after two days, as had been the case. Those using violence will be held until the court system is in a position to try them.

General Blount, however, denied reports that soldiers had been given orders to shoot looters as a deterrent measure. "Unless a soldier's life is threatened, we are not going out aggressively shooting looters," he told reporters.

That reluctance to use force to stop looters threatening other Iraqis is a dereliction of the coalition's duties as an occupying power under international law, argues Mr. Zia-Zarifi.

"The obligation of an occupying power is to protect the people it is occupying," he says. "The overriding policy cannot be force protection. It has to be protecting the people of Iraq."

'Oh, Iraq'

At 1:45 a.m., just as Mr. Zeidan's leg had been attended to, an orange, Russian-built Moskvitch sedan rattled up to the doors of Al Kindi's emergency room. From the front passenger seat jumped a man holding a bloodstained sheet to his head.

Racing round the car, he helped pull out two men slumped in the back seat. One, his left eye swollen from a gunshot wound, muttered softly to himself. The other, wounded in the torso, shouted angrily.

As doctors raced the two men on gurneys into spartan curtained cubicles, a man at the reception desk put his head in his hands. "Oh, Iraq," he groaned.

Friends of the wounded men, who arrived quickly in a smart white Oldsmobile Cutlass Clera, said they had all been drinking on the porch of one of their homes on Rashid Street when US soldiers opened fire on them.

The doctors who treated them were skeptical. The wounds appeared to have been caused by pistol shots at close quarters, they said, not by high-velocity rounds fired from an M-16. And all the men in the group were wearing new sneakers on their feet - ideal for running - not the sandals commonly worn by Iraqi men.

"They are all liars and thieves," muttered Dr. Nouri as a colleague went to work on one of the men.

Newly aggressive patrolling

The streets of Baghdad at night until now have been a no-man's- land after the 11 p.m. curfew that hardpressed US troops have enforced only spottily. The Iraqi police force, which McKiernan is trying to reestablish, does not work after dark.

Wednesday night, however, saw the launch of what Bremer called "aggressive patrolling at night," by US soldiers. Three hundred military patrols in Baghdad Wednesday night arrested 92 criminals, he said.

Seven thousand Iraqi policemen have reported for duty, McKiernan said Wednesday, but almost all their stations have been looted or burned "and we haven't put them all to work."

Even those who are on the streets are ineffectual against looters, Iraqis say, because they are not armed and command no respect.

"The police don't feel safe. They are petrified," says Zia- Zafiri, who has interviewed scores of police officers. "They were not police as we understand them, they were enforcers. Without guns they feel vulnerable. And they know that if they arrest somebody, that person will be back on the street soon looking for revenge."

No ambulance driver

The doctors at Al Kindi could not do much for Haidar Khassem, whose four bullet wounds in the chest require the attention of a chest specialist. Nor could they help Mohammed Taher, who needed neurosurgery.

The hospital's sole ambulance driver could not be found, so Mr. Taher's friends drove him away in the Oldsmobile.

At 3.20 a.m., Mr. Khassem's friends took him to a chest hospital nearby. Still angry, Khassem pulled out a tube in his chest that a surgeon had implanted.

The surgeon shrugged, and let him leave.

Disgusted by the looting

Like many Baghdadis, the doctors show little sympathy for the patients they believe to be looters. They try to save their lives, of course, but they are disgusted by the wave of theft that has engulfed their city.

"If the Americans would shoot two or three looters, everything would stop," says Bakr, the director of the Baghdad morgue.

He adds that few offenders have seemed worried about consequences.

"No one feels there is any punishment, and if you escape punishment, you do anything you want, especially the criminals who Saddam let out of jail" before the war, he says.

"People are asking for the old police force to return," comments Zia-Zafiri. "Even though they didn't like them, they think they would be better than nothing.

"The tragedy," he continues, "is that the insecurity creates a climate where people are clamoring for the old enforcers to be brought back."(c) Copyright 2003. The Christian Science Monitor

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Civilians paying price

By Larry Kaplow Cox News Service
559 words
8 April 2003
Deseret News
A04
English
Copyright (c) 2003 Deseret News Publishing Co.

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- As American troops unveiled the luxuries of a newly captured presidential palace Monday, staffers at the Al Kindi Hospital a few miles away were heaping six bodies onto the dirt outside the facility.

Generator problems and overloading had taken down the morgue refrigerator, and now families would have to claim their loved ones -- wrapped mummy-like in black plastic bags and twine -- from the ground, where flies swarmed around the dead.

The gritty hospital grounds illustrate the price that regular Iraqis are paying as U.S. forces, seeking to topple President Saddam Hussein, gain ground with forays into the capital.

The city is still largely under Iraqi control, but with more U.S. forces on the way, the surgical strikes could get bloodier.

Aid workers say Iraqi hospitals have lost count of the number of wounded civilians they have treated. The International Committee of the Red Cross reported that Al-Yarmouk Hospital received 100 patients an hour at times over the weekend. The World Health Organization reports that hospitals are running low on painkillers, anesthetics and surgical supplies.

At Al-Kindi, the wounded are largely blue-collar types from the outskirts where most of the fighting has taken place so far. Monday was lighter than the day before, but the hospital had received about 70 war wounded by 4 p.m.

"Are you military or civilian," an emergency room doctor asked Abdul Kareem Yousef, 24, who was wheeled out of an ambulance with his aunt, Sabria Hussein, 45. Both have burns on their hands, forearms and faces, which are bloodied and disfigured by peeling skin.

"I'm civilian," Yousef answered with heaving breaths as doctors wheeled his gurney into one of the sparse concrete stalls of the emergency room. "My car. They attacked my car."

Yousef's cousin, Abdul Wadud Mustafa, 24, explained that Yousef, Hussein and two others had been injured driving on Highway 8 earlier Monday.

Mustafa said the car was fired on by U.S. forces passing the area.

First the wounded were taken to a mosque, where doctors have set up a clinic. They fear their usual government buildings could be targeted for attack. The wounded were later taken to a nearby military hospital and sent to the civilian Al Kindi.

In the freshness of their trauma, some relatives of the wounded are willing to stray from the government line and acknowledge -- even in front of government translators -- that their capital is being overrun.

"Yes, because of their unjustified action I think that they will occupy Baghdad within days," said Hussein Obeid, 22. "After the agony they imposed on people here, I think they will stay."

Two of Obeid's brothers were injured Monday morning. One suffered shrapnel wounds in his abdomen after an explosion near his house, and the other suffered a cut ear when their car was fired on -- by American troops, Obeid said -- as they took the first brother to the hospital.

Obeid walked the hallways of the hospital -- which are dark from the power shortage and stink of kerosene from the hospital generator -- with his arms filled with intravenous solution for one of his brothers. He said his opinion of the American presence will be poisoned by what U.S. forces did to get here.

Contributing: Correspondent Robert W. Gee

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