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US bans media from protests

The Age
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
Baghdad

US forces yesterday tried to stop the media from covering a third day of anti-American protests by Iraqis outside a hotel housing a US operations base, according to a reporter at the scene.

Up to 300 Iraqis gathered outside the Palestine Hotel to express rage at what they said was the US failure to restore order after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime.

For the first time, visibly angered US military officials sought to distance the media from the protest, moving reporters and cameras about 30 metres from the barbed-wired entrance to the hotel.

"We want you to pull back to the back of the hotel because they (the Iraqis) are only performing because the media are here," said a marines colonel who would not give his first name or title.

The crowd later moved to the nearby square where a statue of Saddam was toppled last Wednesday, signaling the end of the regime. The Iraqis chanted: "No, no, USA."

Tension has been rising in front of the hotel, where Iraqis protest against a lack of police protection, water, electricity and other basic services.

As the protest grew more vocal, a marines corporal held an impromptu briefing for a few reporters about progress in bringing Iraq back to normal.

Corporal John Hoellwarth said the US forces planned to boost joint police patrols, bring more hospitals back into service and restore power to parts of Baghdad within 72 hours

 


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