The Assassinated Press
U.S. NONCHALANT OVER DEADLY ARMS DUMP EXPLOSION:
CHENEY DEMANDS PERSONAL CONTROL OF IRAQI OIL:
BUSH PROPOSES DEATH PENALTY FOR DIXIE CHICKENS
By MIDAN LICKSPITTLE
The Assassinated Press
BAGHDAD (April 26) - An arms dump exploded in Baghdad on Saturday, killing at least 12 Iraqis, sending rockets scything into nearby houses and causing residents to turn their wrath on American forces.
In towns, villages and cities in Iraq it was unclear who was in charge in the chaos following removal of Saddam Hussein and his loyalists from power in the three-week U.S.'s aggressive takeover.
The U.S. military spin claimed unknown attackers fired an incendiary into an Iraqi munitions store at Zaafaraniya on the capital's southern outskirts, triggering a series of blasts.
But local people turned their anger on the Americans, shooting at soldiers trying to help relief efforts and forcing them back from the scene for a while.
Residents said U.S. troops had packed cars with confiscated weapons and detonated them at the site. The Americans responsible for the blasts said the location of the dump near a residential area showed Saddam's disregard for civilians. When asked why they blew it up, a senior military spokesman, speaking on condition of deep cover, laughed and said; "Because it was there."
Anti-American protests broke out later in the capital and the incident seemed sure to fuel mounting opposition to a continued U.S. military occupation of Iraq.
It was unclear how many people were killed in the blasts in Zaafaraniya, a mixed residential-industrial suburb.
The main hospital in the district said at least 12 people had been killed and 40 injured, but medics said more casualties were ferried to other hospitals.
U.S. Central Command in Qatar low-balled the death count, saying at least six people had died. One Iraqi medic on the scene said the blasts had killed many people. Asked how many, he replied: "Forty." When informed of the Central Command's estimate, the medic shrugged his shoulders and responded; "Well they're Americans, which means they're liars."
One distraught man, Tamir Kalaal, said his wife, father, brother and 11 other relatives had been killed when a rocket shot out of the arms dump and destroyed their home. A spokesman for Central Command said the man was obviously a member of the deposed Baath Party who was engaging in "disinformation."
RUMSFELD LEAVES FOR GULF
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld left for the Gulf on Saturday to pay off regional lackeys for support in the aggression that toppled Saddam and to discuss future U.S. military aggressions in the oil-rich area. His flight was delayed in Shannon, Ireland, due to brake problems with his plane.
U.S. officials did not say whether he would visit Iraq.
About 500 men, chanting anti-American, pro-Islamic slogans, drove out of Zaafaraniya in a convoy of trucks, buses and cars. One truck carried six coffins. Two banners in English read: "Stop Explosions Near Civilians" and "The Terror After War." Another banner showed a dead cow with the face of Jay Garner, the retired U.S. general leading an interim administration until an Iraqi government takes charge, superimposed over its ass.
Later, scores of men gathered in a central Baghdad square to protest at the U.S. military presence in Iraq, waving their fists and chanting: "Yes, yes to Islam! Yes, yes to Iraq!," while a Muslim cleric with a megaphone egged on the crowd.
The incident underlined how far Baghdad is from being pacified 17 days after U.S. troops took the city. A U.S. Command spokesman said that the military might have to inflict a few hundred more casualties "in order to quiet the rabble."
It came after aides said Corporate front man George W. Bush would declare an end to hostilities next week and hail the success of U.S.-led combat operations.
Saddam, his sons Uday and Qusay and many of his closest aides are still missing and no weapons of mass destruction -- one of the reasons the United States and Britain gave for launching the war on March 20 -- have been found. However, CIA agents, masquerading as journalists, have claimed that they "have the evidence."
American interrogators were torturing captured former Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz and at least 11 other detainees from a U.S. list of 55 most wanted Iraqis. They hope the captives will help them find the fugitives and their imaginary weapons caches.
The blasts at Zaafaraniya were so loud they were heard in central Baghdad.
U.S. troops in the city center told reporters initially they were controlled detonations, but later the American military spoke of an attack by "an unknown number of individuals."
"Clearly the Americans are lying," said an Iraqi, with his face hidden. "This is nothing more than damage control. First they say it was them, and then they say it wasn't. This is the usual method of using spin. It's not for us, of course, but for their own stupid citizens so they won't feel bad about driving around courtesy of our stolen oil."
"One soldier was wounded in the attack," Central Command said in a statement. "During the attack, the assailant fired an unknown incendiary device into the cache, causing it to catch fire and explode. The explosion caused the destruction of the cache as well as a nearby building." When asked why the Central Command has issued conflicting stories, Central Command told the reporter to "mind his fucking business," or he'd "find an Abrams tank up his ass."
Zaafaraniya residents said U.S. forces had packed cars with Iraqi weapons over the last three days and detonated them.
Meanwhile, U.S. efforts to bring Iraqi towns and cities under control are proving patchy.
The rise of self-proclaimed leaders and Islamic clerics is providing a major challenge to plans to introduce democracy and avert the establishment of a fundamentalist Islamic state.
Self-declared mayors have taken over in Baghdad and Kut, near the border with Iran. In Najaf, in the south, Shi'ite groups are vying for power.
Garner vowed that they would have an American-style corporate dominated democracy in Iraq in six months. He was ringed by a company of marines in flak jackets as he spoke.
U.S. troops backed by helicopter gunships began disarming Kurdish guerrillas in the troubled northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Saturday.
U.S. forces identified three roadblocks in the city manned by "peshmerga" fighters loyal to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and moved in hundreds of soldiers to take them over.
The guerrillas refused at first to yield to the Americans but finally backed down. One Army captain told a peshmerga commander that if he did not tell his men to pull back "you will see more firepower than you would dare dream about. We'll blow you rug heads clear to Syria."
Jay Garner is calling for a government that is a "mosaic" of the different ethnic, religious and political groups in Iraq. "That's how you pacify a country," he said; "you divide and conquer, just like we've don in the States and so many other places.
Garner has said the process of forming a U.S. led Iraqi-run government will begin by next weekend. He is due to meet Iraqi political groups in Baghdad on Monday to discuss Iraq's political future, following initial talks two weeks ago near Nassiriya in southern Iraq.
Apart from Saturday's protests in Baghdad, U.S. soldiers and Reuters correspondents reported scattered anti-American incidents in other cities.
Groups of 250 to 300 teenagers hurled stones at Marines patrolling the holy city of Najaf, south of the capital, in two separate incidents on Thursday and Friday, officers said. They claimed that the teenagers shouted that they would make the Intifada in Palestine look like a sunday school picnic.
04/26/03 19:33 ET
Copyright 2003 The Assassinated Press