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 Tuesday, April 08, 2003



Five journalists were injured Tuesday when U.S. forces fired upon their hotel in central Baghdad. The Americans were seeking to retaliate against snipers they said were shooting at them from the hotel's roof.The U.S. agreed later not to fire on the Palestine Hotel, where many members of the international media are staying to cover the war.

More than 4,500 Egyptians have volunteered to fight the US-British coalition which is swiftly taking control over Iraq, the national bar association which is organising recruitment said Tuesday. Sayed Shaaban, the association's official responsible for handling the volunteers, admitted however that no one has yet left for Iraq from Egypt.He said the bar association, which is dominated by the opposition radical Muslim Brotherhood, received the applications and sorted them to ensure candidates met the conditions required, notably a clean criminal record and a passport.They were then passed on to the Iraqi embassy here to be given visas.

British forces have asked a senior Iraqi tribal leader to form a committee to run the newly captured city of Basra, a military spokesman said Tuesday."We have been approached by a local tribal leader, a sheikh," Colonel Chris Vernon told reporters here."The British divisional commander met him last night. He will form, at present, the leadership within the Basra province and we have asked him to form from the local community a committee that he thinks is representative of local people."British forces did not intervene in the looting spree because their primary mission was combat, he said.Vernon also said that there was no humanitarian crisis within the city where there were sufficient food supplies to last the population until the end of May. But he said that the British forces would try to increase supplies of drinking water.

An al-Jazeera cameraman has died and another of the Arabic-language news channel's journalists is missing after a coalition bombing raid hit its Baghdad office this morning.The office of another Arabic news network, Abu Dhabi TV, was also hit, according to reports on the BBC and al-Jazeera.Al-Jazeera cameraman Tareq Ayoub, who was seriously wounded in the bombing, died from his injuries, the channel announced today.

A new cassette tape purported to be from Osama bin Laden urges suicide attacks and calls on Muslims to rise up against Arab governments that support the attack on Iraq. In the audio tape, bin Laden's supposed voice urges the faithful to attack the governments of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Unlike previous such tapes, this one had a single theme - suicide attacks

Witnesses told AFP that nine members of a family, including two children and five other people were found dead after the bomb destroyed four houses off Ramadan 14, a main commercial artery in the al-Mansur area. Initial reports said the area had been hit by a missile.

American and British officials combed through a makeshift morgue for Iraqi and Iranian soldiers killed in the Iraq-Iran 1980's war . Some early news reports by correspondents traveling with the British forces who stumbled on the site on Saturday suggested that it had been used for torture. The 664 thin wooden coffins at the morgue, containing the remains of 408 men, were stacked in neat rows, some five coffins high in a warehouse in what the officials called a former Iraqi artillery complex. Chief Warrant Officer Dan Walters, the leader of the task force's Criminal Investigation Division unit, said a preliminary examination of the remains and some of the thousands of pages of documents that were abandoned in a building next to the warehouse suggested that atrocities had probably not occurred here. Rather, he said, Iraqis had apparently been processing the remains and preparing to exchange them with Iran."Their wounds were consistent with combat deaths, not executions," said Mr. Walters, whose team is supported by the 75th Field Artillery Brigade, normally based in Fort Sill, Okla. "So far," he added, "there are no indications that war crimes were committed here."

As US Forces tightened their grip on Baghdad, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, along with his two sons, fled the capital three days ago for his home town of Tikrit, 175 km to the north, media reports said. "I have been informed that once he had firm evidence that the Americans were closing in on Baghdad, he fled to his home town of Tikrit," claimed Haitham Rashid Wihaib, Saddam's former Chief of Protocol in The Mail. The dictator left by way of anonymous taxis and battered pick up trucks in a convoy which would have looked like any other group of fleeing Iraqis. "He has taken his two sons Uday and Qusay, and a handful of key advisors still loyal to him. In Baghdad, each local commander has been told to act as he sees fit," Wihaib said.

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