BAGHDAD, Iraq April 11 —
Taking the law into their own hands, Baghdad residents blockaded
streets and beat up looters Friday as disorder spread in the Iraqi
capital. The United States said the military does not intend to act
as a police force.
Thousands of Iraqis including entire families plundered and
burned government ministries and other symbols of Saddam Hussein's
regime in a third straight day of lawlessness that began with the
arrival of U.S. troops in Baghdad.
Four civilians were shot and killed by U.S. troops wary of
suicide attacks at Baghdad checkpoints, and a 5-year-old girl was
The Ministries of Education and Industry, both in the heart of
Baghdad, were looted and set on fire, sending dark smoke over the
city. The Foreign and Information Ministries and the Baath Party
headquarters were sacked along with the city's engineering and
The Trade and Planning Ministries also were smoldering, along
with one of the main markets in the city center. At the German
Embassy, three men stood on the roof, unscrewing a large satellite
In Baghdad's Karadah neighborhood, residents fought back: They
armed themselves with Kalashnikov rifles, set up roadblocks and
checked passing cars for stolen goods. Any plunder was confiscated,
and people in the cars were taken out and beaten and tossed in an
In Saddam City, a Baghdad slum dominated by Shiite Muslims and
named after the Sunni Muslim leader they despised, mosque minarets
blared appeals for people to stop looting and destroying their city.
Some heeded the clerics' calls and brought stolen goods to mosques
Residents of some neighborhoods erected street barricades of
tiles, huge rocks and sandbags to keep looters out.
With many Baghdad residents demanding U.S. troops restore order,
Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, Central Command spokesman, said that the
military is helping to rebuild the civil administration but expects
the Iraqis themselves to assume responsibility for law and
"At no time do we really see becoming a police force," Brooks
He suggested the lawlessness will ease with the rebuilding of the
"We have to be patient over that," Brooks said. "We are not
exercising the same kind of grip over the population that the regime
did. That's by design."
U.S. commander Gen. Tommy Franks issued new rules of behavior
Friday for American forces in Baghdad now that the Iraqi capital is
under U.S. control.
Under the rules, troops are forbidden to use deadly force to
prevent looting. They should allow government workers to go to their
jobs. Hospitals, businesses and mosques should remain open. Schools
should reopen and record attendance.
Meanwhile, scattered bursts of machine-gun fine could be heard
around the city in a reminder that the fighting is not yet over.
U.S. troops worked to hold key intersections against Iraqi holdouts
and manned checkpoints, on high alert against suicide attacks.
"I feel like I'm in Beirut, Lebanon, waiting for the suicide
bombers," said Army Lt. Col. Philip DeCamp. "We know they're holed
up on the other side of the river and scattered around the
On Friday, a car carrying an Iraqi family drove through a
checkpoint in Baghdad without stopping, and Marines opened fire.
Three adults were killed, and a 5-year-old girl was wounded.
On Thursday night, a vehicle containing explosives was driven to
a checkpoint near the Saddam City section of Baghdad and detonated,
Brooks said. Four Marines and one medical corpsman were wounded, he
said, without providing details.
A short time later, a man started walking toward U.S. soldiers
stationed at an intersection near the government's tourism
department. The soldiers, on edge against the possibility of a
suicide attack, fired four warning shots, but the man kept coming.
They opened fire. When they found his body in the morning, he was
In the Al-Mansour district in western Baghdad, pro-Saddam bands
of Arab volunteers manned sandbagged positions, armed with
rocket-propelled grenades and Kalashnikov rifles. Residents said
they were mostly Syrians.
Children as young as 10 and entire families mother, father and
the kids took part in the looting, carrying away everything from
tables, chairs and light fixtures to water coolers, air conditioners
"Tell the Americans to stop the killing and the looting. We can't
live like this much longer, with Muslims looting other Muslims,"
said 41-year-old Jabryah Aziz. "I need to feel safe so I can go and
collect my food ration."
Officers with the 7th Marine Regiment said they received orders
Thursday night to try to stop looting. The regiment planned to
enforce a dusk-to-dawn curfew Friday in the area it patrols in
Lt. Col. Michael Belcher, a battalion commander, said his
priorities were first to protect key structures, such as the power
system, and second to safeguard humanitarian sites like hospitals
and aid distribution centers. Commercial buildings are last, he
"If I see them tearing down electrical infrastructure in some of
these facilities, I'll step in to stop it," Belcher said. "What we
found so far is that if you confront the looters, they'll put it
down and go away."
Taleb Abdel-Razaq, who works in a coffee shop, stood in central
Baghdad and watched looters coming out of government departments and
stores with their plunder
"I cannot believe it," he said. "Are these really Iraqis? What
happened to their honor and their patriotism? This is our country.
How could they do this? If they have to loot, fine. But why should
they torch everywhere they go?"
Meanwhile, a company from the Army's 3rd Infantry Division
stumbled on a personal weapons cache belonging to Saddam's son Odai
in a Baath Party enclave in an otherwise empty house. There were
hundreds of Beretta 9mm pistol boxes the pistols had been looted and
dozens of gold- and silver-plated military weapons, apparently
presented as gifts to Odai.
At the Al-Rashid Hotel, a portrait of former President Bush that
had put installed on the floor by Saddam's regime as a gesture of
disrespect was destroyed Friday. The picture had been put there so
that people entering the hotel walked all over Bush's image.
EDITOR'S NOTE The AP's Chris Tomlinson, Niko Price and Jerome
Delay in Baghdad also contributed to this report.
|An Iraqi girl looks at two US
soldiers outside the Al-Monsour hotel near the Information
Ministry in Bagdhad Thursday April 10 2003. Hundreds looted
the hotel, as US forces looked on. (AP Photo/Jerome
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