- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 28, 2003

BAGHDAD — Members of Iraq’s police force at the newly painted Salihya precinct in downtown Baghdad reviewed their defenses yesterday with defiance and frustration over Monday’s deadly suicide attacks.

“Our job is to protect the people, and we’re determined to continue focusing on that task — helping our community,” said Maj. Adel Hassan, a career officer who served under Saddam Hussein.

But, like many other policemen, he complained that his men are being denied some of the key tools they need to defend both themselves and the public.

Eight policemen were killed and 65 wounded Monday when suicide bombers struck three Baghdad police posts as well as the headquarters of the International Red Cross. Altogether, 35 persons were killed.

Yesterday, a car bomb exploded about 100 yards from a police station in the western city of Fallujah, killing four persons and wounding several others.

A newspaper editor in the north who had written favorably about the overthrow of Saddam was slain Monday night when he went onto a rooftop to use a satellite phone.

In Baghdad, authorities reported that a U.S. soldier was killed and six wounded in a rocket-propelled grenade attack while they were trying to destroy roadside bombs.

Authorities also announced that the city’s pro-American deputy mayor, Faris Abdul Razzaq al-Assam, had been slain in a drive-by shooting Sunday night.

“Those attackers want to stop our people living in peace,” said Maj. Hassan, whose forces were re-evaluating the cement-and-sand cordons and razor wire around their station near the Al Rasheed Hotel, the scene of a well-planned rocket attack on Sunday.

He also complained that coalition forces had not given his men the tools they needed to do their job. “We have no plastic handcuffs, and only old small handguns — no match for ordinary criminals, let alone terrorists,” he said.

His men also complained that their salaries of $120 a month were $30 lower than those of the recently formed Facilities Protection Service, which defends coalition buildings and other key sites. Policing involves far more danger and requires greater training and skills, they said.

Several U.S. military policemen who work daily with the Iraqi police say their ambition and enthusiasm often outstrip their abilities. Most officers were recruited from the old police force, which had little experience in chasing criminals in patrol cars, they said.

The complexity of Iraq’s security setup was highlighted by a confrontation at the police station yesterday.

An irate American security officer had arrested an Iraqi who, he said, ran a private security operation for a leading member of the Iraqi Governing Council, Ahmed Chalabi.

“He tried to countermand the orders being given by this Iraqi police officer,” said the American. “When an argument broke out, this man went with his hand toward his sidearm, so our guys punched him out.”

The Iraqi station commander said he had no jurisdiction in the case and, after a further verbal exchange, the arrested man was taken away by the American and his Iraqi police colleagues.

As mortar fire echoed from another part of the city, the blue-uniformed Iraq policemen at the Salihya precinct mingled with American officers and talked about how to cope with the wave of attacks.

“The best way to cut down this violent onslaught is for us or the coalition to catch Saddam Hussein,” said one Iraqi sergeant.

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