Iyad Allawi's Iraqi police are shooting at reporters to keep them from telling the truth about what's happening (or what's going to happen soon) in Najaf, England's Telegraph reports:
The bullet that whistled through the lobby of the Sea Hotel in Najaf yesterday, embedding shards of glass into a foreign reporter's cheek before lodging itself in an air-conditioning unit, carried an unmistakeable message: "Get out."
...As US marines and Iraqi security forces resumed their operation to evict insurgents from the Shrine of Ali, the holiest place in Shia Islam, the Iraqi interim government decided yesterday to treat the media as the enemy.
First the reporters got a warning:
In Najaf journalists were summoned yesterday morning by the city's police chief, Ghalab al-Jazeera....
... the police chief delivered a blunt warning: journalists had two hours to leave Najaf or face arrest....
For good measure, Mr Jazeera also threatened to arrest Iraqi drivers and translators working for the press corps if we did not comply. The 30-odd journalists staying at the Sea Hotel decided to stay in Najaf.
Shortly after the deadline expired, the first bullets struck the building. But the sniper was almost certainly an Iraqi policeman, given that the Mahdi army fighters were more than two miles away.
Then armed police raided the hotel and tried to arrest the journalists, before imposing a new two-hour deadline to leave the city.
A deputation of journalists was denied an audience with Najaf's governor, Adnan al-Zurufi. The policeman outside his office was brusque. "If you do not leave by the deadline we will shoot you," he said.
That was enough for all but a handful of British and American journalists who hunkered down in the hotel as the deadline expired.
As night fell, shots were fired at the roof of the hotel, from where reporters file their stories....
MORE: This report from Reuters and Australia's ABC notes that Iraqi police arrested an Iranian journalist. According to an AP story at Fox, the government later backed down from the order to leave; that story notes this:
The order, if it were enforced, would mean the only news coverage of the ongoing violence in Najaf, one of the most revered cities to Shiite Muslims, would be provided by reporters embedded with the U.S. military.