- Iraqis carrying hammers and axes yesterday began to demolish
a police station in the troubled city of Falluja in a public act of defiance
against the US military.
- In what appeared to be a well-organised operation a crowd
of labourers, mostly young men and boys, sawed off railings and tore out
the metal window frames from the three-storey building. Others, using mallets
and metal poles, knocked down the outer wall brick by brick, and were slowly
trying to break apart the building itself.
- Although the al-Tawhid police station was ransacked in
the days immediately after the war, the US military had used the building
intermittently as a centre for operations in Falluja and were negotiating
to set up a full time base there.
- Early on Thursday, one soldier was killed and five were
injured outside the building when they were attacked with a rocket-propelled
- "That attack was a warning to the Americans,"
said Arkan Habib, 32, who stood in the rubble of the station yesterday.
- "We have told them more than once that this is a
residential area and we don't want them here. We have destroyed the walls,
we took the windows and now we are going to destroy the whole building,"
he said. "We are cleansing the place of Americans."
- It was unclear who had organised the operation, although
some in the crowd said the orders and equipment had been provided by local
- Graffiti has appeared on walls in Falluja in recent days
in support of the attacks against the Americans. "Falluja will be
a fire burning the invaders," said one message painted in Arabic.
"God bless the mojahedin of the city of the mosques," said another.
- Falluja has emerged as a centre of anti-American resentment
that covers a broad area of the country to the west of the capital Baghdad.
In another attack yesterday rocket-propelled grenades were fired at a US
Abrams tank and a Humvee patrolling near Khaldiya, a small town close to
Falluja. No one was hurt.
- The area is populated by Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority,
many of whom prospered under the regime of Saddam Hussein. American generals
have described the resistance as coming from Ba'athists and Saddam loyalists.
But many in the crowd that gathered outside the police station in Falluja
yesterday insisted they had welcomed the fall of Saddam Hussein, but were
angered by the continued US military presence in a town dominated by a
deeply conservative religious and tribal culture.
- "We are not loyal to Saddam. He was a dictator and
a tyrant. Now he has gone, but the Americans are acting like dictators
themselves," said Mezher al-Jumeili, an unemployed man in the crowd.
- Around 300 US troops have been in Falluja since mid-April.
Now more than 1,500 combat soldiers are setting up base outside the town,
preparing to be deployed in an effort to tackle the resistance.
- Much of the resentment comes from the actions of the
US troops themselves. Last month, soldiers shot dead 18 protesters over
separate days when a crowd demonstrated outside their base. There have
also been aggressive house searches, which have angered many.
- After the rocket attack on Thursday, US troops ordered
all the men out of the houses opposite and spent three hours searching
them. Yesterday Khamis Jassin, 35, who lives in one of the buildings with
his extended family, showed locks that had been cut open, door handles
broken off and cupboard doors smashed open.
- "We didn't have any guns in the house, we didn't
have anything," he said. "The soldiers didn't speak Arabic and
they didn't have a translator. There was nothing we could say to stop them.
We think they should leave our town now. They haven't achieved anything
- Most Iraqis listen regularly to Arabic service radio
stations and are keenly aware of the pronouncements of the British and
US governments and the steps taken by the US-led authority in Baghdad.
- Many are aware of the delayed political process which
means an Iraqi government is unlikely to emerge for at least a year.
- Last night, Paul Bremer, the US official running Iraq,
met around 17 Iraqi politicians to discuss his plan to appoint a political
council of up to 30 people as the first step to forming a government.
- Officials have tried to widen the number of politicians
included in the process and three women, the first to be involved in the
discussions, were invited to last night's meeting.
- Several of the political groups are angry that Mr Bremer
has abandoned an earlier decision to hold a large national conference to
elect, rather than appoint, a council.
- But yesterday a senior official at the Coalition Provisional
Authority defended the decision, saying there was not enough security or
sufficiently developed political parties to hold a vote.
- "If you had an electoral process today, I think
it would lead to more instability right now rather than less," the