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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

War in Iraq: Baghdad Latest

Aired April 14, 2003 - 00:16   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: On to Baghdad now. We have focused a lot over the past few days on the looting, but today U.S. forces had more to contend with than just the struggle to restore order, they also faced an intense firefight.
Michael Holmes in Baghdad tonight has the latest on what's going on -- Michael.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, good morning from Baghdad.

That's right, that firefight last evening, well it was early this morning, really, about 1:00 a.m. here, it's now just after 8:00 a.m., was fierce but brief. In fact, we've seen worse here in the past few days, but it certainly woke up journalists standing here in our broadcast position at the Palestine Hotel. People diving for cover, donning their flack jackets, being told by Marines to turn off lights and things like that when a couple of snipers, we believe, were firing on positions just behind me really. They were firing from a building behind that mosque. Marines responded, as they do, with withering fire, 50 caliber machine guns and the like.

There's something else that's created tensions around this city as well has been checkpoints. Of course the checkpoints necessary for security. Marines looking for weapons. They have fallen victim, however, to suicide bombers who drive vehicles up and then detonate them at checkpoints. And just a couple of days ago, a Marine killed by a man who was found to have Syrian papers on him who walked up and shot a Marine before he himself was killed and accomplice got away. The checkpoint situation has also resulted, however, in a nervousness that has led to civilian deaths as well.

Here's a look at the checkpoints.

041411CN.V73

And that confusion still continues, Anderson. People here do not speak English. They are not taught English widely, and so that is a problem at these checkpoints. Marines say that what they're hoping to do in the days ahead is to get Iraqi police back on duty and take over some of the checkpoint patrols as well and start having Iraqis dealing with Iraqis.

One of the problems is, and there's meant to be the first patrol of Iraqi police in about a couple of hours from now, one of the problems is that those police are still tainted, if you like, by association with the previous regime. These are police officers widely known among the people in Baghdad for taking bribes, demanding bribes, telling people they'd run a red light when there wasn't one in sight and taking money from them. So there's a suspicion of the police. But given the security situation in Baghdad at the moment, Iraqis say they'll take anything they can get -- Anderson.

COOPER: Understandable. Michael Holmes, thanks very much, live from Baghdad.

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