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2003-04-09

Looting Breaks Out Near Baghdad As the Presence of the Iraqi Government Diminishes: We Talk to Afp Reporter Ezzadin Said in the Palestine Hotel

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Looting has broken out in the impoverished Baghdad suburb of Saddam City as a crowd of Iraqis cheered the arrival of US troops there.

As U.S. forces moved through one neighborhood after another in the Shia suburb, residents seized the chance to plunder military installations and government buildings. They took computers, air conditioners, refrigerators, furniture, even Iraqi jeeps.

The Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf has not yet arrived at the Palestine Hotel for his daily press briefing. Nor have the government minders shown up to accompany journalists. Iraqi state television went off the air.

The Pentagon says almost an entire armored brigade–several thousand troops–is now in Baghdad, and it intends to stay there. The Pentagon plans to double the troop presence there in the next 24 hours. US troops are expanding their control over the city block by block.

Iraqi resistance is much lower than before. But marines are continuing to battle snipers. And Iraqi fighters in buses and trucks are crossing the Tigris to attack US troops. US Central Command spokesman Captain Frank Thorpe says the coalition continues to be cautious and warned of tough days ahead. Earlier, Senior British military spokesman Group Captain Al Lockwood said it is too early to say the Iraqi regime has crumbled.

Reuters is reporting Iraqis are asking today who is running their country.There is no sign of police or government authority on the streets of central Baghdad. One shopkeeper asked a Reuters correspondent: "To whom do we belong now?"

  • Ezzedin Said, AFP reporter in Baghdad.

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