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Saddam loyalists in deadly show of force after his capture
( 2003-12-16 09:07) (Agencies)

US troops killed two Iraqis after Saddam Hussein loyalists sacked regional government offices and insurgents attacked police stations in a show of force following the capture of the former dictator.

The pair of Iraqis were gunned down in the Sunni rebel stronghold of Fallujah 60 kilometres (35 miles) west of Baghdad, police and journalists at the scene said.

The pair were shot inside a car, said Iraqi police Lieutenant Hamid Ali Bardi.

An American military spokeswoman in Baghdad said she was checking on the report but had no confirmation.

The shooting occurred about 9:00 pm (1800 GMT), just after an explosion in the town, a centre of anti-coalition resistance 60 kilometres (35 miles) west of Baghdad.

Earlier, pro-Saddam demonstrators sacked Fallujah's regional government offices, forcing police guards to flee, journalists at the scene said.

The demonstrators stormed into the building, broke up the furniture, computers and air conditioning and then destroyed documents.

They set all the wreckage alight in a huge bonfire outside, the correspondents said. Two large pictures of Saddam and Iraqi flags were hung from the top of the building.

US soldiers took control of the sacked building and stationed themselves around the local Iraqi police station which had been deserted in the afternoon.

Military aircraft dropped flares and US soldiers used loudhailers to call on residents to give up their arms. They threatened to "shoot anyone seen with a gun in his hand."

Fallujah, which remains loyal to Saddam, had broken out in joyous displays Monday after rumours spread that the man US forces captured Saturday night was not the former Iraqi leader.

In Baghdad, a pro-Saddam demonstration degenerated into fighting and attacks on two police stations in the Sunni Muslim quarter of Adhamiyeh in the northern part of the city Monday afternoon.

"About 100 assailants attacked two police stations in the district with automatic weapons and RPGs from along the roofs and in the street," Lieutenant Haidar Zuheir said.

The attack came after police fired into the air to disperse the loyalists approaching one station, said Ali Abdul Jaber, a witness. The protesters scattered into adjacent streets but then began to aim at the police station.

Neither police nor a local hospital reported any casualties.

The exchange of fire lasted several hours and when night fell, a foot patrol of American soldiers entered Adhamiyeh.

The neighbourhood had been tense since the announcement Sunday afternoon that US troops had captured the former dictator, a member of Iraq (news - web sites)'s Sunni minority, hiding in a hole near his hometown of Tikrit.

About 200 people protested in Adhamiyeh on Sunday evening with portraits of the deposed leader. "Saddam is the glory of our country," they chanted.

In Ramadi, 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of the capital, protesters took to the streets and stormed the governor's building and put up Saddam posters.

In Tikrit, 300 students demonstrated in support of Saddam.

"With our blood, with our soul, we defend you Saddam Hussein," they chanted.

Some wept and several displayed Iraqi currency bearing Saddam's photo -- still in circulation.

Iraqi police and American troops dispersed the protesters, some of whom were beaten and arrested, an AFP reporter said.

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