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U.S. & British Troops Containing Iraqi Looting - 2003-05-20


At the UN Security Council, continuing debate on a draft resolution on whether to lift sanctions against Iraq. Some, including the Russian foreign minister, say there could be agreement as early as this week. Inside Iraq, meanwhile, the focus is on maintaining law and order. Carol Pearson reports.

Looting has been one of the major problems in post-war Iraq.

Both American and British troops are carrying out patrols and training local police to contain the scale of looting.

For the looters, nothing seems sacred.

One Baghdad hospital was so badly looted it was forced to move patients to an adjacent hospital.

Dr. Ali Ismail fears that the looters may spread diseases like tuberculosis.

DR. ALI ISMAIL, PEDIATRICIAN
“Many of the things were contaminated with the sputum of the patients which contains the micro-organism of tuberculosis and this micro-organism can live for a long time, even under the sun. And they might be infected, they are their families, if they use these things in their houses, maybe for storing food.”

Hospitals are having an especially difficult time. Some drugs are still not available in Iraq and some of the equipment and medicine they did have was stolen by looters.

Tuesday, British troops shot and seriously wounded a looter near Basra.

The troops were part of a patrol that was searching for a bank robber, when they were alerted to a group of car thieves, according to British Sergeant Graham Smith.

SERGEANT GRAHAM SMITH “As we were about to drive into the market all the people started shouting ‘Ali Baba! Car thieves.’

We saw this man and another man with heads wrapped in scarves, running along here, one with a RPG (rocket propelled Grenade), one with the Kalashnikov. And we fired warning shots into the wall – one, two, three. And then he turned, and as he turned with the RPG, my driver shot him.”

NARRATOR The British soldiers have been trying to restore law and order in a suburb of Basra.

Outside Baghdad, some religious groups have destroyed a brewery and have threatened to destroy stores that sell alcohol. These religious groups were tightly controlled under Saddam Hussein.

Some of them are now seeking to build a state based on fundamentalist Islamic values.

And there is concern that they may attempt to impose similar restrictions on films, magazines and newspapers.

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