Four U.S. Marines were seriously wounded Thursday night when an apparent suicide bomber detonated explosives at a U.S. checkpoint in northern Baghdad. The suicide attack occurred about 7:30 p.m. near Saddam City, a poor neighborhood that is home to a large Shiite population.
Marine Capt. Joe Plenzler, public affairs officer with the 1st Marine Division, said that a man strapped with explosives approached a Marine checkpoint and detonated himself. The suicide bomber was killed.
"It confirms what we expected," Plenzler said. "We expected the enemy would try to pull all the dirty tricks out of the bag," he said.
Earlier Thursday, looters surged through Baghdad and government buildings were set on fire. Tens of thousands of people roamed the city in the second round of looting since Wednesday. American troops made little effort to stop people as they carried off TV sets, refrigerators, carpets and other plunder.
U.S. troops received orders Thursday to begin trying to stop the looting. "There's civilian looting like crazy, all over the place. There just aren't enough of us to clear it out," said Marine Lance Cpl. Darren Pickard, 20, of Merced, Calif., who was trying to protect an Iraqi police academy compound that was being picked over by looters.
Reinforcements had to be called in to help protect the compound's armory, which included hundreds of rifles along with grenades, knives, pistols and mortars.
At U.S. Central Command in Qatar, Maj. Gen. Gene Renuart said the Iraqis' anger toward symbols of the regime was not surprising after years of oppression. He said the U.S. military's civil affairs teams would work with neighborhood leaders to try to restore calm while the Iraqis rebuilt their police force.
He said curfews were possible, but "our intent is not to be heavy-handed, but it is to ensure that stability is brought back to the areas." He said the military hopes to establish "compassionate relationships with members of the community."
Around the city, looters hit stores and government installations, including the Irrigation Ministry, the Transport Ministry, the Air Force officers club, the government computer center, the Olympic hospital and state laboratories.
People streamed out of As-Salaam presidential palace carrying sofas, chest of drawers and sofas. They held smaller items in carpets and blankets.
The German Embassy, a three-story off-white building in the center of al-Karada district, also was sacked. Looters emerged with air conditioners and computers. Mobs also cleaned out the French Cultural Center and Odai's house, the Arab TV network Al-Jazeera reported.
In the city center, donkey carts were loaded with office furniture, TV sets, appliances and carpets.
Elsewhere, looters carted off bottles of wine and whisky, guns and paintings of half-naked women from the luxury home of Uday, the son of Saddam Hussein, Reuters reported. Looters also took objects from Uday's yacht, moored in a private marina on the grounds of the house, and removed some of the white Arabian horses he kept.
The looters destroyed much of what they could not carry away, including golden taps and chandeliers.
Looters also stormed into Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz's villa in Baghdad. Aziz's villa is located in a street of the Jadria neighborhood on the east bank of the Tigris which also houses luxury residences of other regime officials. (Albawaba.com)
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