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A Sense of Normalcy Returns to Iraq, But Calmness Is Not Complete - 2003-04-14


Some Iraqis began to return to their normal activities Monday, after days of lawlessness and disorder. While all is not yet calm in many cities, Auria Aguilar-Makki tells us this situation seems to be changing slowly.

Iraqis bought vegetables and fruits at this Baghdad market Monday. It is the first sign of a slow return to normal life. When Saddam Hussein’s Baghdad regime fell last week, many took advantage of the power vacuum to loot government installations, businesses and private properties.

But now coalition forces and Iraqi police are beginning to patrol the streets of Baghdad and Basra, trying to maintain law and order. In Baghdad, VOA-TV’s Deborah Block says though there is not much left to be taken, looting has NOT completely disappeared.

DEBORAH BLOCK
“I did go into one military building yesterday and people were still looting the little that was left. And they are also breaking windows and knocking down tiles. One of the problems right now is that people are taking ammunition and some of it very dangerous. We’re talking about AK47 bullets and grenades. The Marines are trying to stop this. They are stopping people they see in the street that may be carrying any of these kind of thing but they are also stopping vehicles on the streets, asking if they have any ammunition, searching the vehicles anyway and they are finding quite a few people with boxes of all sorts of things.”

Important historical installations were also looted such as the National Museum of Antiquities.

After the fall of Saddam Husseins’ government, many Iraqi police officers went into hiding fearing they would be mistaken for regime loyalists. But thousands reportedly showed up for work Monday.

This Iraqi policeman says their task is to patrol the streets with American forces to look for stolen government property. The Iraqi population is also helping. Local residents are returning many articles they were able to recover from looters. And many others are guarding their neighborhood, sometimes taking the law into their own hands. In Basra, British soldiers distributed free newspapers to the area population Sunday. Major David Kemmisbetty said it is the first newspaper written by Iraqis for Iraqis.

MAJOR DAVID KEMMISBETTY
“This is the first example of some free press for Iraq, the first time they’ve had a newspaper from outside that hasn’t been directed by the Baath party and hasn’t been Saddam’s message.”

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