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 Thursday, April 10, 2003



Civilian Casualty Update

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US marines sent a towering bronze statue of Saddam Hussein crashing to the ground amid loud cheers and riotous scenes on a central Baghdad square on Wednesday

The U.K. troops in the Iraqi southern port city of Umm Qasr set up mass graves in the city to cover up hard evidence of committing massacres that claimed the lives of some 200 Iraqis in the first days of the war, unleashed on March 20, eyewitnesses reported.They asserted that the British troops left a lot of wounded Iraqis scattered across the streets without treatment, noting that the locals tried to treat them but were prevented by the U.K. soldiers.“They (the U.K. troops) prevented the hospital’s doctor from treating the injured and left them bleeding to death,” local eyewitness told correspondent visiting Umm Qasr.According to locals, Iraqi fighters in Umm Qasr, who remained defending the small city for 10 days before its capture by the U.K. troops, were running out of supplies and resorting to the locals’ homes for food.

United States-led forces have snapped the spine of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein government but the war is not yet formally over, the US military has declared. Other signs of a breakdown were also apparent. Journalists at the Palestine Hotel confirmed that their minders had disappeared.Uniformed soldiers and police have completely disappeared from some areas of Baghdad leading to an outbreak of looting.US and Kurdish troops dislodged Iraqis from a mountain used to defend the northern city of Mosul on Wednesday.

The minimal resistance U.S. troops faced in Baghdad and the quasi-collapse of President Saddam Hussein's regime came as a surprise to many Arabs Wednesday, triggering speculation about the unimpeded advance of U.S. forces into the capital. The main questions remains: where is Saddam? What happened to him and the ruling clique? Where are the Iraqi army, the Republican Guards and the Baath paramilitary combatants?Lebanese House Speaker Nabih Berri wondered why the Russian ambassador to Iraq, Vladimir Titarenko, returned to Baghdad only few days after he left the country. Berri said there might have been a deal to move Saddam to Moscow and maybe the Iraqi leader is already hiding in the Russian Embassy in Baghdad

US troops entered Saddam City, Baghdad's teeming Shiite suburb, without facing resistance, but widespread looting was underway, witnesses said.US troops, backed by military vehicles were seen at Saddam City, in the northeast of the capital, where people were breaking into shops and homes to steal furniture, food, electrical equipment and carpets.Unconfirmed reports said residents among the heavily-armed population of well over a million had forced out the Fedayeen Saddam militiamen before the arrival of the US troops during the night.

U.S. forces in Iraq hold some 7,300 Iraqi prisoners of war, a number that includes "three or four" generals and some captured fighters who are not Iraqi nationals, the U.S. commander in charge of a newly constructed prison camp said Wednesday.

British and US intelligence sources have been giving conflicting opinions on the success of an air strike designed to kill Saddam Hussein. US sources say they saw him entering the building in Baghdad on Monday and that he did not emerge before four satellite-guided US bombs destroyed it. But Britain's intelligence agency, MI6, has reportedly told the CIA that the Iraqi leader left the building moments before the strike in the Mansour district. However, a former chief of protocol for Saddam Hussein told the BBC he believed the Iraqi leader was not even in Baghdad at the time of the strike.

Colleagues of the Al-Jazeera correspondent killed on Tuesday when two US missiles struck the Baghdad offices of the Qatar-based channel have said they believe they were deliberately targeted.Last week, the hotel where Al-Jazeera correspondents in the southern Iraqi city of Basra were staying was also hit by four bombs that did not explode.

Two more journalists died and four others were injured when a US tank round later hit the Palestine Hotel where at least 200 international correspondents, including Al-Jazeera reporters, are staying.General Buford Blount, commander of the US 3rd Infantry Division said a US tank was "receiving fire from the hotel, RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) and small-arms fire, and engaged with one tank round. The firing stopped." But BBC correspondent Rageh Omaar cast doubt on the US line saying he heard no gunfire from the hotel prior to it being hit

FOOTAGE filmed by France 3 television of a strike on a hotel which killed two journalists in Baghdad today shows a US tank targeting the journalists' hotel and waiting at least two minutes before firing.The journalist and film editor who filmed the attack, Herve de Ploeg, who filmed the attack, said: "I did not hear any shots in the direction of the tank, which was stationed at the west entrance of the Al-Jumhuriya (Republic) bridge, 600 metres north-west of the hotel.The tank's turret is seen moving toward the Palestine Hotel, where foreign reporters have set up shop, and the gun carriage lifting and waiting at least two minutes before opening up.

Seven journalists were beaten, robbed and narrowly escaped lynching at the hands of Iraqi militia in central Baghdad, a Portuguese journalist reported on Wednesday. They were forced to stop by armed Iraqi militiamen who robbed them of much of their equipment and money, Fino said, adding that only the intervention of a Baath party member prevented the journalists being lynched.FP reporter said.

The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service has refrained from commenting on media reports that the Russian diplomatic convoy in Iraq was attacked due to "a direct clash of interests between the Foreign Intelligence Service and the CIA. On Wednesday, media reported that the Foreign Intelligence Service used the diplomatic convoy as a cover to transport the Iraqi special services' archives. The CIA allegedly hindered the action.

Russia denied on Wednesday Arab and Western media reports that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was in the compound of its embassy in Baghdad."This type of statement is not in any way true," Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko told Russian state television.

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