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Baghdad sinks into anarchy

David Fox in Baghdad | April 12, 2003 00:28 IST

Baghdad sank into anarchy on Friday as residents went on a looting spree in full view of US forces.

As troops battled Iraqi fighters, thousands of residents helped themselves to anything they could lay their hands on in shops, factories, schools, hospitals and government buildings.

Young and old, men and women rifled through bomb-damaged buildings as well as areas unaffected by fighting.

"Is this your liberation?" one frustrated shopkeeper screamed at the crew of a US tank as a gang of youths looted his small hardware store and carted off the booty in the wheelbarrows that had also been on sale.

"Hell, it ain't my job to stop them," drawled one young marine, lighting a cigarette as he looked on. "Goddamn Iraqis will steal anything if you let them. Look at them."

"For God's sake, how can they just let them do this? This is my life," one old man cried as a gang used crowbars to remove the security mesh from the Anwar electrical repair shop in the centre and began carting off dozens of air conditioners.

To the Iraqis, the US appears not to have given any thought to the power vacuum created by removing Saddam Hussein.

The Iraqi president's trickledown system of patronage means that anyone in any position of authority -- from traffic police to government functionaries -- has been tainted.

Some have taken to looting themselves, knowing where the best stuff is.

"She worked here, she can't have it, she worked here..." shouted one woman as she wrestled another woman for material in a government supply office.

In some neighbourhoods residents erected makeshift roadblocks and formed local watch groups to stop looters.

But some looters told US troops the roadblocks had been erected by militiamen, prompting tanks to crash through them and sometimes opening fire.

The city's hospitals were overflowing with civilians injured by what they said was US shelling or firing and at one, the dead were being buried in the garden.

Dozens of corpses lay rotting by roadsides or in cars blown up by US forces as they captured Baghdad.

Near the airport, volunteers wearing facemasks and rubber gloves used shovels to scrape human remains from the burnt-out wrecks of cars, trucks and buses, just metres away from US forces and their tanks.

With no possibility of identification, corpses were being buried in shallow graves on the roadside.

"This is going to cause a major problem for sanitation and the water system," a US army engineer officer told Reuters.

Nearby, the corpse of an airport worker rolled around in a pool of water.

"That's 'bubbling Bob'," said one soldier. "Been there a while. I ain't gonna fish him out. Let the Iraqis do it."

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Sub: Anarchy in Iraq

Hi I want to see the same thing happening in India where the houses of bloody politicians and tax evading cinema actors/actresses/rich people deserve to ...

Posted by Arun


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