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Unrest Continues in Mosul After Shooting Incident - 2003-04-16

More violence and unrest is reported in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, one day after U.S. Marines killed seven Iraqis after being fired on by protesters. Elsewhere in Iraq, coalition troops are continuing their search for weapons of mass destruction and U.S. officials are considering what to do with captured Palestinian terrorist Abu Abbas.

At least three people were killed and several others wounded in Mosul.

U.S. Brigadier General Vincent Brooks says coalition troops are trying to bring order to Mosul after an incident Tuesday in which several Iraqis were killed and a number of others wounded.

General Brooks told reporters at Central Command headquarters in Qatar that a crowd became unruly during a speech by an Iraqi opposition leader and began attacking U.S. Marines who had occupied a government building:

"Fire was directed at the Marines and Special Operations forces in this complex," he said. "It was aimed fire and aimed fire was then returned against some of the demonstrators, some of the agitated persons who are now [were then] climbing over the wall of the compound."

Meanwhile, coalition troops continue their hunt for weapons of mass destruction. U.S. Special Forces troops conducted an early morning raid on the home of Dr. Rihab Taha, an Iraqi scientist who is believed to have run a secret biological weapons laboratory in Baghdad.

"A U.S. military spokesman says the troops have recovered several boxes of documents inside the house and have detained three men for questioning,' said VOA correspondent Alisha Ryu, who is with U.S. troops in the Iraqi capital. "The whereabouts of the Iraqi scientist, known as 'Dr. Germ,' are unknown."

U.S. officials are deciding how they will handle Palestinian terrorist Abu Abbas, who was captured by coalition troops late Monday in Baghdad.

In Qatar, General Vincent Brooks told reporters that the apprehension of Abbas is proof of links between the Saddam Hussein regime and terrorists. He also said Abbas tried to escape Iraq once the war began.

"We understand that Mr. Abbas tried to move a number of times and did not succeed in escaping from Iraq, and more importantly he did not succeed in escaping from the reach of the coalition forces," said General Brooks.

Italy says it plans to seek Abbas' extradition. An Italian court convicted him in absentia for the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship. During the hijacking, an elderly American passenger, Leon Klinghoffer, was shot to death in his wheelchair and pushed overboard.

One of Mr. Klinghoffer's daughters, Lisa Klinghoffer, was asked about the capture of Abu Abbas on NBC's Today program.

"Well, this first sends a message that no matter how many years go by, terrorists can not run and terrorists can not hide because they are going to be caught," she said.

Palestinian officials in the West Bank are demanding Abbas's release, saying his arrest violates an accord between Israel and the Palestinians granting amnesty to PLO officials who committed violent acts prior to 1993.

The apprehension of Abu Abbas has raised hopes that coalition forces might have success in either hunting down or confirming the fate of the senior officials in the Saddam regime.

"Everyone you talk to in the street, this is the question on their minds" said VOA correspondent Laurie Kassman, who has been talking to ordinary Iraqis in Baghdad. "Although they realize the war is over and the Saddam Hussein government is no longer in power, they still wonder where he is. And it scares them because they do not know."

Finally, U.S. officials say they believe Iraq's former intelligence chief has fled to Syria. Farouk Hijazi headed the Iraqi intelligence agency in the 1990's and U.S. officials believe he was involved in a failed plot to assassinate former President George Bush during a visit to Kuwait in 1993.