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'Sense of lawlessness' pervades Baghdad

U.S. Marines take small-arms fire; looting continues

A U.S. Marine destroys an Iraqi automatic rifle in downtown Baghdad.
A U.S. Marine destroys an Iraqi automatic rifle in downtown Baghdad.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A "sense of lawlessness" pervades the Iraqi capital Friday, with U.S. Marines dodging "potshots" from forces loyal to the crumbling Iraqi regime and working to disarm a city bristling with weapons, CNN correspondent Martin Savidge reported.

"These were sort of potshots that seemed to be coming from a northerly direction," Savidge said from his location in front of the Palestine Hotel in central Baghdad.

"They would come on a semi-regular basis in clusters of one, two, three shots at a time." He said the Marines consider the shooting probing actions and rarely return fire.

He said the scattered attacks on the Marines point to a "sense of lawlessness" that hangs over Baghdad despite the massive presence of coalition troops in the capital.

Looting continued, Savidge said, though it was not clear whether there was much left to take after two days of residents ransacking government offices, presidential palaces, homes of former ruling Baath Party officials and other sites, including hospitals.

Most stores in the capital remained closed. One woman told Savidge that the government had not yet given the word for the stores to reopen -- a testament to the reach of the Iraqi regime into the day-to-day lives of its people.

The a tremendous amount of weaponry remaining in Baghdad is keeping disposal teams occupied.

"[There are] mortars, bombs, [rocket-propelled grenades], rockets of all sorts and tons and tons of ammunition," Savidge said. "Literally, you can find it lying in the streets."

According to Savidge, disposal is haphazard, usually taking place in the afternoon and marked by loud booms.

EDITOR'S NOTE: CNN's policy is to not report information that puts operational security at risk.

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