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Violence in Iraq Spreads Fear Among Reporters - 2004-04-26

More fighting is being reported in the Sunni Muslim stronghold of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, an explosion damaged a building and several military vehicles in Baghdad, and in southern Iraq, oil is flowing again following a series of suicide attacks.

In the besieged city of Fallujah, where joint American and Iraqi patrols are supposed to begin Tuesday, Marines and Iraqi insurgents exchanged heavy gunfire in at least two of the city's districts.

Meanwhile, in Baghdad, a powerful explosion blew up at least two U.S. military vehicles and heavily damaged a nearby house. In the southern city of Basra, oil exports resumed less than two days after suicide bombers forced operations to shut down.

The continuing violence across the land has prompted some veteran war correspondents in Baghdad to say that covering the story in Iraq has become increasingly dangerous.

Jim Clancy, an internationally known correspondent with CNN who has covered conflicts in Central America and the first Gulf war in Kuwait, says few correspondents are willing to venture very far from the heavily protected Green Zone in central Baghdad, where coalition forces and Iraq's Governing Council are headquartered.

"Let me give you an example," he said. "You have seen some of the veterans of conflicts all over the world, some of the people that really know what they are doing, making a conscious decision not to go out and seek the story when it involves traveling on roads where, you know, there have been convoy attacks and people taken hostage.

"Not going out to areas where you are certain there have been hostages taken," continued Mr. Clancy. "And, really limiting all of your travel to the point where perhaps interviews inside the Green Zone, interviews inside Baghdad are acceptable. But, the risk you would take to travel some of these roads is just too high. It is not worth the story."

Mr. Clancy says that these days, many correspondents in Iraq are opting to remain in their more secure hotel rooms while conducting their interviews over the telephone.