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Iraq War: Looters ripping apart buildings amid chaos; REACTION.

Scenes of chaos filled the streets of Basra yesterday as looters set about ripping the city's buildings apart for scrap.

Young men were bent double under the weight of their findings as they struggled to carry scrap metal, air-conditioning units and barrels of fuel from the city. The bridges leading into Basra, once the scene of a refugee exodus, were packed with traffic and queues of up to 30 cars formed at petrol stations as signs of panic-buying set in.

Sporadic gunfire could be heard in the streets and few British soldiers ventured out of their Warriors and Challenger II tanks. 'People in Iraq are no good, we have suffered too long,' one man told me, adding: 'Be careful.' Moments later, the area was fired upon as the distinctive crack of machine gun fire could be heard.

Another man, a former Iraqi soldier who refused to give his name, giving only his English nickname of William, defended the actions of the looters.

'Saddam Hussein deprived us of everything. This is the result of the deprivation of Saddam himself, that's what has caused this chaos, this mess,' he said.

The 23-year-old, a former English language student in the city, said: 'I feel very happy because Saddam Hussein has vanished, he's gone off, he's our nightmare.

'There are some militia but the army will kill them. I used to be a soldier after I graduated from college, but when I first heard the President Bush address, from the first moment I heard it, I ran away from Saddam Hussein because I'm not going to die for him.

'Now, we are very happy that our freedom is being cared for by the US and the coalition.'

'I wish we could fight together with the coalition troops but we don't have any guns.'

CAPTION(S):

Iraqi men wheel away looted furniture on a tricycle through the streets of Basra
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 8, 2003
Words:315
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