April 12 —
As looting spread Saturday to new areas of Baghdad, U.S.
officials said 1,200 police and judicial officers will go to Iraq to
help restore order. Saddam Hussein's science adviser surrendered to
U.S. forces and insisted Iraq has no weapons of mass
In western Iraq, U.S. forces stopped a busload of men who had
$630,000 in cash and a letter offering rewards for killing American
Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, at U.S. Central Command, said the 59
men, all of military age, were captured while heading toward Iraq's
border with Syria. He said he did not know the men's nationalities
nor who wrote the letter offering rewards.
The Central Command also said a "significant-sized" force of
Marines headed north from Baghdad on Saturday to attack Iraqi
military positions part way toward Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, one
of the last bastions of his collapsing regime. No engagements had
been reported so far.
In Baghdad, a firefight erupted Saturday evening outside the
Palestine Hotel, where many journalists are based, by the Tigris
River. Marines were running tree-to-tree as heavy machine gun fire
and explosions could be heard near the river.
The threat of suicide attacks appeared ever more potent. Marines
showed reporters a cache of about 50 explosives-laden suicide-bomb
vests in an elementary school in Baghdad, less than 20 feet from the
At a nearby junior high school, seven classrooms were filled with
hundreds of crates of grenade launchers, surface-to-air missiles and
ammunition. Residents said Iraqi soldiers and militiamen had
positioned weaponry throughout the neighborhood before U.S. forces
"We didn't imagine this much stuff here," said Lt. David Wright,
of Goldsboro, N.C. "Every 200 meters we find something."
Searching for weapons, and for holdout pro-Saddam fighters, has
been the primary task of American troops in Baghdad. But U.S.
officials, criticized for doing too little to curtail the looting,
say restoration of law and order will become a higher priority.
The State Department said it is sending 26 police and judicial
officers to Iraq, the first component of a team that will eventually
number about 1,200.
Much of the looting has targeted government ministries and the
homes of former regime leaders, but looters also have ransacked
embassies, hospitals and private businesses.
Also pillaged was the Iraq National Museum, the country's
flagship archaeological showcase, which featured priceless artifacts
dating back to 5,000 B.C. Reporters visiting it Saturday saw row
after row of empty glass cases, many of them smashed, and bits of
broken pottery and sculpture on the floors.
Saddam's science adviser surrendered to U.S. military authorities
Saturday, insisting that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and
the U.S.-led invasion was unjustified.
Lt. Gen. Amer al-Saadi arranged his surrender with the help of
Germany's ZDF television network, which filmed him leaving his
Baghdad villa with his German wife, Helga, and presenting himself to
an American warrant officer, who escorted him away.
U.S. forces reopened two strategic bridges in the heart of
Baghdad giving looters easier access to territory that had
previously been spared. U.S. soldiers watched but did not intervene
as plunderers swarmed into several government buildings and emerged
with bookshelves, sofas and computers.
Aid organizations, as well as many Baghdad residents, have
pleaded with U.S. officials to crack down on the looting.
"The humanitarian situation is worsening as a consequence of
widespread lawlessness," said InterAction, a Washington-based
coalition of more than 160 U.S. aid groups. Iraq-based relief
workers with CARE said hospitals are "in absolutely dire straits,"
with some looted and others closed to prevent looting.
Abbas Reda, 51, a Baghdad engineer with five children, was
distraught at the looting of schools and hospitals.
"If one of my family is injured where will I take them now?" he
asked. "The Americans are responsible. One round from their guns and
all the looting would have stopped."
In another Baghdad neighborhood, residents complained that U.S.
soldiers thus far have not heeded requests to clear cluster bombs
dropped during the war. The residents said three people had been
killed and one injured trying to pick up the unexploded
Najah Jaffar, 51, described his attempt to get American help
removing the bombs.
"When I spoke to the soldier, he said, `It takes time,'" Jaffar
said. "Many bodies, many children will be killed without reason...
This is no peace."
Looting diminished Saturday in the northern city of Mosul, a day
after pro-Saddam defense forces dissolved and U.S. soldiers forces
moved in. However, a Mosul hospital reported that 10 people had been
killed in Arab-Kurdish violence that broke out as control of the
city changed hands.
In Kirkuk, another northern city taken this week from Iraqi
regime forces, there were signs of cooperation Saturday among the
region's different ethnic groups. The Arab television network
Al-Jazeera reported an agreement to form a local administrative body
divided evenly among Arabs, Kurds and ethnic Turks.
Next, the U.S.-led coalition is expected to focus on Saddam's
hometown, Tikrit, where some Iraqi forces are believed to be
regrouping. However, the U.S. Central Command said many of the
troops there have fled in the face of heavy airstrikes, and the
remnants may not muster an effective defense.
Tikrit, 90 miles northwest of Baghdad, has long been a power
center for Iraq's Sunni Muslim tribes, who may plan to resist as
long as possible out of fear of losing power to the Shiite Muslim
majority. Saddam drew many members of his inner circle from Tikrit,
and built several fortified palaces and military installations
Officials at the Pentagon have specific concerns about one aspect
of the widespread looting that vandalism of government offices could
destroy evidence about weapons of mass destruction.
In western Iraq, U.S. troops seized control of crossings on two
highways leading into Syria. There was tough resistance near Qaim,
on the Syrian border, raising speculation that the town might be
site for illegal weapons.
U.S. officials said Saturday that the first humanitarian flights
had arrived at Baghdad's international airport since the American
takeover two C-130 transport planes with 24,000 pounds of medical
supplies from the Kuwaiti government for hospitals in Baghdad.
Another milestone flight took off in a different direction
Saturday. Pfc. Jessica Lynch, the soldier rescued from Iraqi
captivity in a dramatic commando raid, departed for the United
States after a week of treatment at a military hospital in Germany.
Several members of her family and 50 other injured soldiers were
aboard the C-17 military transporter.
|An Iraqi woman offers a flower
to an American Army soldier in the center of Baghdad, as
hundreds of Iraqi demonstrate demanding peace and security,
Saturday, April 12, 2003. (AP Photo/Anja
Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This
material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or