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Cheering Iraqis Denounce Saddam, Welcome Coalition Troops - 2003-04-09

Thousands of cheering Iraqis took to the streets of Baghdad Wednesday, denouncing Saddam Hussein, destroying images of the former Iraqi leader and, with security forces nowhere to be seen, some looted government offices in the capital.

In Baghdad Wednesday there were scenes of jubilation in the streets. Thousands of Iraqis gathered in downtown Baghdad cheering and chanting "There is only one God and Saddam is an enemy of God."

One man was seen beating a poster of Saddam Hussein with his shoe. Another ran and kicked the poster and a third man spit on it.

Iraqi citizens are reportedly ripping down images of Saddam throughout the capital.

Some men could be seen smiling while shedding what appeared to be tears of joy, while waving machine guns in apparent defiance of the Iraqi regime.

Where reporters could witness the unfolding events in the capital, there was no sign of Iraqi troops, security personnel or police.

Clearly, the celebrants felt secure enough to publicly show their disdain for Saddam which, just hours earlier, would have been punished by death.

With no security in sight, others took the opportunity to loot, breaking into stores and offices to steal furniture, food, electrical equipment, carpets and other items.

Reporters in the capital describe the scene as extraordinary.

A few kilometers to the east of the capital, residents threw flowers at columns of coalition armored coalition vehicles at they crossed the Tigris river.

In the midst of the celebrations, there were still reports of sporadic shooting around the capital from Iraqi paramilitary troops. U.S. military officials have warned they expect more fighting in and around Baghdad, and in the north.

But that was far from the minds of many Iraqis in Baghdad on Wednesday.