Thursday, May 29, 2003


The police station in the tense Iraqi town of Hit smouldered on Thursday, a day after it was set alight in what residents said was a riot over intrusive weapons searches by Iraqi police and US soldiers....

...24-year-old Amer Aziz, who said he represented the young men of Hit, said the trouble began when police and American troops began a house-to-house search for guns on Wednesday morning.

"The Iraqi police were very rough with our women," he said. "They forced their way into houses without knocking, sometimes when women were sleeping. This is a very conservative town."

Uproar ensued in the Sunni Muslim town of 155,000 as angry residents surged into the streets, burning police cars and throwing stones and handmade grenades at the Americans.

Aziz said a parley had taken place in the afternoon, when townsfolk told the Americans to leave or face suicide attacks.

"I convinced the young men to withdraw and then the Americans withdrew," he added.

Another young man, 26-year-old Ahmed al-Mashhadawi, said a hand grenade had been thrown at a US tank as it left town. "We killed one soldier and wounded others," he said.

The U.S. military said on Wednesday it was checking what happened in Hit, but has not confirmed any casualties....

--Reuters, via (New Zealand)

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