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Iraqis take law into own hands

hundred of Iraqis demonstrate demanding peace and security,
Hundred of Iraqis demonstrate in Baghdad Saturday demanding peace and security.

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Widespread looting, fires and lawlessness in Baghdad.
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The looting and chaos that has engulfed Baghdad and other major Iraqi cities seems to be subsiding as citizen groups step up to fill the security void by setting up their own patrols and checkpoints.

And U.S. Marines have agreed to work with Iraqi police in an attempt to restore law and order which has broken down since coalition forces entered the capital a week ago.

"We don't want to have lawlessness; that's not part of the objective," said Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks of the U.S. Central Command. "I think we all just need to be patient and recognize that this is not something that happens overnight."

Baghdad remains dangerous place. A U.S. Marine was killed Saturday when two gunmen opened fire at a checkpoint. Marines returned fire, killing one of the two attackers, but the other escaped, Marine sources told CNN Correspondent Martin Savidge.

U.S. forces also engaged in a firefight near the Palestine Hotel after coming under apparent sniper fire, reported CNN Correspondent Christiane Amanpour. The hotel is home to many international journalists.

Soldiers from the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division entered a mosque in Southern Baghdad and captured about 15 men in civilian clothes believed to be paramilitary fighters, as well as the remains of a U.S. soldier.

Various documents, including at least one Syrian passport, were found in the mosque compound, along with Syrian and Iraqi money, reported CNN Correspondent Ryan Chilcote.

In a Baghdad school, Marines also found about 50 "suicide vests," loaded with explosives, that could be used by suicide bombers, Savidge reported.

In Washington, State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said Friday that U.S. authorities were trying to "reestablish a certain sense of local authority and policing without involving the remnants of the regime or the torturers who once plagued the lives of ordinary Iraqis."

The State Department has identified 26 police and judicial officials who will join the effort led by retired Army Gen. Jay Garner "to conduct assessments of how to establish local policing, local security."

The department has also been working on a contract to identify 150 other people who can travel to Iraq soon, Boucher said.

And additional funding will be used to hire "something like 1,000 police and judicial officials" to help the Iraqis reestablish security and order in their towns and cities, he said.

"I'd have to say these people who we're sending out will conduct assessments, provide advice, help people get organized," Boucher said. "They're not cops on the beat. ... We're not going to do the policing of Iraqi cities." (Chaos in Baghdad)

The United States will not be shouldering the burden alone, he said.

As of Friday, 58 countries had expressed interest "in participating in some way in that next phase of stabilization, reconstruction, transition to Iraqi political authority," Boucher said.

"And many of those governments who have indicated a willingness to consider a military role or a police role -- some of them have indicated that they are able to help with the policing function, with the judicial function."

Meanwhile, elements of the U.S. 1st Marine Expeditionary Unit have set out towards Tikrit -- the only major Iraqi city not under U.S.-led coalition control.

Spokesman Brooks said the forces would be "relentless" in their efforts to capture Saddam Hussein's ancestral home.

Saddam stacked his closest advisers and security forces with fellow Tikritis -- and his Tikriti tribesmen could well be expected to defend their leader to the death. (Saddam's last stand?)

Also Saturday, the former Iraqi leader's top scientific adviser and point man during the last round of U.N. weapons inspections has surrendered to U.S. forces.

German television network ZDF helped arrange Lt. Gen. Amir al-Saadi's surrender and taped it at the general's request to assure his safety. He was No. 55 on the U.S. list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis. (Most wanted list)

The scientist granted the network an interview, and told its reporter he had no information about other members of the dictatorial regime -- including Saddam -- and insisted, as he had during the inspections process, Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. (Full story)

In Kirkuk, a former Iraqi air force colonel told U.S. military officials that he knew of 120 missiles within about an 29 kilometer radius of the city -- 24 of those carrying chemical munitions, according to an army intelligence posting at the airfield's military headquarters.

The man claimed to have been a former commander of a military airfield there and said he had been jailed by Saddam's regime.

During routine operations to secure the airfield in Kirkuk soldiers with the U.S. 173rd Airborne Brigade found a warhead they believed might be loaded with chemical weapons, CNN's Thomas Nybo reported.

The meter-long warhead was marked with a green band which, military sources told CNN, is the universal symbol for chemical weaponry. (Full story)

Preliminary tests showed trace amounts of a nerve agent on the warhead, but another set of preliminary tests conducted Saturday found no trace of chemical weaponry.

One of the soldiers who performed the second set of tests told CNN nothing much should be read into the findings because no definitive answers will emerge until experts break into the warhead. Those experts were notified of the warhead's discovery, but it was not clear when they will arrive at the base.

In other developments:

• In Washington, Pfc. Jessica Lynch, the U.S. Army soldier rescued from Iraqi captivity in Nasiriya, returned to the United States along with 49 other injured soldiers Saturday to continue treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. (Full story)

• Tens of thousands of anti-war protesters march across the world Saturday to commemorate those killed during the war in Iraq and urge coalition troops to leave the war-torn nation soon. (Full story)

• Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday accused the U.S.-led coalition of having failed to achieve its war aim, to disarm Iraq. (Full story)

• Coalition forces Friday took into custody 59 Iraqi men found to have letters offering rewards for killing U.S. soldiers and about $600,000.

• U.S. Marines were "welcomed like liberators" Saturday as they rolled into the center of Kut, Marine sources told CNN. (Full story)

• An Iraqi who surrendered to U.S. Marines Saturday told them he performed plastic surgery on President Saddam Hussein and his relatives, and knows where the leader has fled to, CNN's Martin Savidge said.

• According to the latest figures provided by U.S. and British authorities, a total of 145 coalition service members have died in the conflict. (Coalition casualties)

• The Iraqi government released no information on military losses, though U.S. military officials have reported thousands of Iraqi military deaths. Official Iraqi sources quoted by Abu Dhabi TV said 1,252 civilians died and 5,103 were wounded. U.S. Central Command said more than 7,300 Iraqis were taken prisoner of war.

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


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