Friday, April 11, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Allies meet fresh resistance
Kurds enter Kirkuk; Iraqis ransack luxury homes

US President George W. Bush speaks on an Iraqi television address on Thursday. Bush said "Your nation will soon be free." The address was taped on Tuesday during Bush's meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Ireland and was part of a new information campaign being televised to the Iraqi people.

US Major General Victor Renuart answers a question during a briefing at the Coalition Central Command in Doha, Qatar,
on Thursday. Renuart confirmed that Kirkuk had fallen to coalition forces and Kurdish fighters, and that Baghdad was still "an ugly place."

World Bank President James Wolfensohn speaks to the press during the spring meetings of the World Band and IMF in Washington
on Thursday. Wolfensohn said the World Bank was ready to help rebuild Iraq if asked to do so.

Iraqi Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammed Aldouri leaves his residence in New York on Thursday. When asked by Reuters for comment, Aldouri responded, "Everything is over. There is no government that I represent. I am representing my country right now."

An Iraqi man passes by a burning local office of the Baath Party in the southern outskirts of Baghdad
on Thursday.
 — Reuters photos

Dubai, April 10
The day after the fall of Baghdad, the US-led war in Iraq was far from over, with US forces today coming under intense attack from Saddam Hussein’s loyal soldiers as looting continued in the capital while the American-backed Kurdish forces entered the key northern oil city of Kirkuk.

In Baghdad, US troops continued to face sporadic resistance, coming under fire in several parts of the city. Iraqi troops — thought to be members of the elite Republican Guard — fired machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades at a US convoy.

The marines later began searching a nearby mosque, where it was thought Saddam Hussein might be hiding.

The US Central Command in Doha said marines were engaged in "intense fighting" with pro-Saddam forces at the Imam mosque, the Az Amihyah palace and a house of a leader of the Baath party.

One American soldier was killed and 20 injured in the fighting which also left five Iraqis killed and six wounded. One American tank and a personnel carrier were also destroyed, reports reaching here said.

US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair in separate recorded remarks televised throughout Iraq told the Iraqi people that the Saddam Hussein regime was "collapsing" and that they "deserve to live as free people".

"The long era of fear and cruelty is ending," Mr Bush said in a two-and-a-half-minute address recorded on Tuesday while meeting Mr Blair in Northern Ireland.

According to the excerpts of the address released by the White House in Washington, Mr Bush said, "The Government of Iraq and the future of your country will soon belong to you. You deserve to live as free people."

Mr Blair said "I am glad to be able to speak to you today and to tell you that Saddam Hussein’s regime is collapsing; that years of brutality, oppression and fear are coming to an end; that a new and better future beckons for the people of Iraq."

US-backed Kurdish forces have moved into the centre of Kirkuk, but a BBC correspondent said there were still pockets of resistance while the Iraqi army appeared to have fled the town.

The Kurdish capture of Iraq’s fourth-largest city could have major ramifications as different groups position themselves for power in post-war Iraq.

Neighbouring Turkey has made it clear that it will not countenance anything that looks like an independent Kurdish state.

"Everything is being followed very closely," Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told reporters. "Whatever is necessary will be done. Talks are being carried out. Turkey’s stance on this issue is clear and open."

Kurdish fighters also moved into the strategic city of Khaneqin, northeast of Baghdad, and were greeted by cheering crowds.

Khaneqin lies south of the Kurdish autonomous region, which runs along the Iranian border and reaches within 160 km of Baghdad.

There were reports of Iraqis looting the deserted luxury homes of senior figures of Saddam Hussein’s regime, including his son Uday as the US marines watched.

In the Jadria and Hay Babel areas on the eastern bank of the Tigris, the villas of Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz, Saddam’s daughter Hala, his half-brother Watban, and army generals, were systematically ransacked. Uday’s villa was totally stripped except for a fixed wrought iron barbecue in the middle of the garden.

Looters also turned their attention to the German Embassy and the French Cultural Centre.

Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit in the north was still under bombardment and cited widely as a likely last refuge for the ousted rulers. PTI

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