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Iraqi ex-soldiers riot over pay

A stone-throwing mob of ex-Iraqi soldiers charge at U.S. troops Saturday
A stone-throwing mob of ex-Iraqi soldiers charge at U.S. troops Saturday

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Thousands of former Iraqi conscripts Saturday staged violent demonstrations in the Iraqi capital and the southern cities of Basra and Hilla demanding payment from the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Former soldiers under Saddam Hussein had gathered in central Baghdad and other cities to collect a one-time $40 payment from the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Coalition Provisional Authority official Charles Heatley said the violence was sparked by former Baathist officers who spread rumors that the CPA "didn't have enough money to pay them all."

"Baathists were identifiable in the crowds by waving green flags, and they deliberately provoked the crowds," said Col. George Krivo, a coalition military official, describing the violence in Baghdad.

"Significantly, there was a lot of violence between the former Baathist officers and the former conscripts."

A number were taken into custody after the violence.

A doctor at Yarmouk Hospital in Baghdad reported the death of one Iraqi.

Dr. Abbas Jaffer said five others were significantly injured, including two who had gunshot wounds in the chest. And at least 20 others were treated for minor injuries.

Witnesses told CNN the riot erupted in the middle of the Iraqi capital on Saturday when coalition soldiers appeared to beat an elderly man. That report could not be independently confirmed.

In the southern city of Basra, an Iraqi was shot and killed by British forces Saturday during a demonstration, the British military told CNN.

Krivo and Heatley said demonstrations in Basra and Hilla were also incited by former Baathist officers.

At least two U.S. soldiers were wounded in the mayhem, according to the Coalition Press Information Center, although the center did not say if their injuries were serious.

The U.S.-led administration in Iraq officially disbanded the country's army in May, leaving hundreds of thousands of conscripts unemployed and resentful.

Authorities had agreed to pay about 450,000 former soldiers and hundreds line up daily at an old airport hangar in the Malawi section of Baghdad to receive their cash -- about $40 each.

The payments -- totaling about $18 million -- by Coalition Provisional Authority over a series of months are coming from formerly frozen Iraqi funds.

Meanwhile Saturday, the task of rebuilding Iraqi institutions continued with the graduation of 700 soldiers in Baghdad. They will serve as the first battalion in the country's new army.

Other developments

• An attack on a U.S. patrol in Baghdad late Friday killed a U.S. soldier and wounded another, according to the Coalition Press Information Center. The death brings the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq to 318 -- 203 from hostile fire. The Infantry Division patrol came under fire from small arms and rocket-propelled grenades at about 11:45 p.m. in As Sadiyah, a neighborhood in northeastern Baghdad.

Achmed Jaburi, Iraq's Central Bank deputy governor, reveals the new look of Iraq's money, minus the face of Saddam Hussein.
Achmed Jaburi, Iraq's Central Bank deputy governor, reveals the new look of Iraq's money, minus the face of Saddam Hussein.

• Iraq's Central Bank unveiled the country's new currency, which will have the images of Iraqi historical figures instead of Saddam Hussein. The bills will go into circulation October 15 and Central Bank officials said Iraqis will have three months to exchange old money for newly designed bank notes. Ahmed Salman Mohammed, deputy governor of the Central Bank, displayed the notes, which will be available in six denominations -- 50, 250, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 25,000 dinars.

• Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that his country is not satisfied with the U.N. draft resolution on Iraq from the United States but added that he was heartened by the U.S. desire "to find a compromise." The U.S. proposal bolsters the U.N. role in the rebuilding of Iraq and calls for the development of a timetable leading to Iraqi sovereignty. (Full story)

• An Iraqi "criminal gang" is responsible for breakdowns in electrical power supplies in Iraq, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development said Friday.

• An Iraqi judge ordered the confiscation of nearly 2,300 metric tons of Iraqi oil and two tankers suspected of trying to smuggle the material out of the country, the Coalition Provisional Authority said Friday. A coalition naval task force seized the two vessels, the Saudi Gizan and the Manara II, in August in the Persian Gulf.

CNN senior producer John Raedler, correspondents David Ensor, Michael Holmes, Barbara Starr and Harris Whitbeck contributed to this report

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