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Archive for Thursday, March 27, 2003

Briefly

March 27, 2003

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Iraq

Marines open fire on bus along highway

As the Marines rolled through the night toward an expected battle Wednesday with Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard, an unlucky bus rushed headlong toward them on Highway 7.

The Marines opened fire from machine guns mounted on their Humvees, badly damaging the bus and killing 20 of the 22 Iraqis inside. The Iraqis wore makeshift uniforms and had two pistols between them.

Apprehensive about possible suicide attacks and guerrillas in civilian clothes, the 4th Amphibious Assault Battalion of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force has done a lot of firing on the road to al Kut.

By Thursday morning, the 4th was 30 miles south of al Kut, where a division of the elite Republican Guard is reportedly waiting. In a steady rain, the Marines stopped along the highway to refuel and regroup before pushing on.

New York City

2 Newsday journalists' whereabouts unknown

Newsday has lost contact since Monday with its two journalists assigned to cover the war in Baghdad, after they and a small group of Western journalists were rounded up by Iraqi officials and apparently ordered to leave the country, according to other reporters in the Iraqi capital.

American journalists in Baghdad who were contacted by Newsday said correspondent Matthew McAllester and photographer Moises Saman, along with an undetermined number of journalists, were told by Iraqi officials on Monday night or Tuesday morning that "they were being expelled because they had inappropriate or expired visas," said Newsday Editor Anthony Marro.

Newsday has not heard from either McAllester or Saman since an e-mail message McAllester sent to his editor Monday afternoon.

Reporters in Baghdad said as many as 10 people may be in the group that went missing.

Moscow

Foreign minister seeks delay on arms treaty

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov backed a proposal by some lawmakers to postpone approval of a key U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control treaty, as he accused the United States on Wednesday of trying to destroy Iraq.

Ivanov said he supported delaying authorization of the treaty because the U.S.-led strike could fuel unfair criticism of the pact.

"Maybe now is not the right moment psychologically to bring this document up for ratification," Ivanov said. "If we wait for some time, and concentrate all our efforts on ending the war ... then at a more quiet moment we can quickly deal with this issue."

The treaty, signed in May by Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Bush, calls on both nations to cut their strategic nuclear arsenals by about two-thirds, to 1,700 to 2,200 deployed warheads, by 2012.

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved the treaty this month. The move was widely seen as part of a diplomatic effort to win Russian support for a tougher line against Iraq. But Moscow has only hardened its position, repeatedly criticizing the U.S. military strike.

Texas

Security no concern for NASCAR race

Officials at the Texas Motor Speedway said a NASCAR race Sunday was expected to draw the largest single gathering of Americans -- more than 210,000 -- since the war with Iraq began.

Organizers are so confident of security arrangements that they vowed to race even if the Homeland Security Department's terrorism-alert level rises to Code Red.

The crowd is expected to include 154,000 in seats, plus guests in the Speedway Club and Lone Star Tower and huge throngs in the infield.

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