1,000 CLASH WITH POLICE IN SAMAWA – Iraqis angry over no water or electricity

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At least one person was killed and sixty others were wounded yesterday when over 1,000 angry Iraqis clashed with police in Samawa, south of Baghdad, during a protest over lack of water and electricity.

Witnesses said police opened fire on the crowd after angry protesters had thrown rocks and attacked a police vehicle.

The demonstration in front of the governor’s offices in the town began peacefully, but witnesses said that people were infuriated after the puppet Iraqi government’s security guards had panicked as numbers grew and fired into the air to try to disperse the crowd.

Police said after the clashes that at least one person was killed, 46 civilians and thirteen police officers were wounded.

After the ‘election’ in January, the new puppet government had pledged to restore public services.

Frustrations are running high with what are now years of electricity shortages and high unemployment.

Samawa, about 370km southeast of Baghdad, is where about 600 Japanese troops are based, who have been involved in a series of reconstruction efforts since January 2004.

Meanwhile, on Saturday evening, two more US soldiers were killed and three others were injured by a roadside bomb in Samarra, about 95km north of Baghdad.

The US military confirmed yesterday that a US patrol with Task Force Liberty had been hit.

All five soldiers were transported to a medical facility, where two of them died from wounds suffered in the attack, a military statement said.

Yesterday three puppet Iraqi soldiers were killed in a drive-by shooting in southern Baghdad.

The soldiers, who were in civilian clothing, were shot as they were heading to work, hospital doctors said.

A fourth soldier was injured in the morning attack in the southern Baghdad neighbourhood of Saydida.

In the Iraqi capital’s New Baghdad district, armed men killed two employees of the puppet Iraqi Ministry of Oil and wounded two others, when assailants opened fire on their car.

In the northern town of Tikrit, President Saddam Hussein’s home town, five would-be recruits queueing outside the Iraqi police headquarters were killed by a suicide bomber.

Fifteen other would-be recruits were wounded.

Men volunteering to join the force had been crowding the area at the time.

The Iraqi resistance has killed scores of puppet government officials and ministry employees.

l Israeli finance minister Binyamin Netanyahu yesterday afternoon resigned from his post in protest against the planned Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

• Second News story

30,000 CWU JOBS UNDER THREAT

Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) London Regional Secretary John Denton yesterday repeated a call by CWU Deputy General Secretary Dave Ward for Royal Mail to ‘come clean’ on its strategic plan after reports appeared in the Sunday press that Royal Mail plans 30,000 more sackings over the next five years.

Denton said: ‘we have just agreed staffing levels necessary at all Royal Mail offices over the past two years.

‘We would have to see a reason for further job cuts.

‘We don’t know if what’s reported is real or just conjecture.

‘The problem is the strategic plan is protected under “commercial confidence” and we are not allowed to see it.

‘It’s public money, a wholly-owned public company, yet the public, employees and customers are not allowed to see the plan, yet Postcomm is.’

The Sunday Telegraph reported yesterday Royal Mail is to due to slash its workforce by ‘at least 30,000, according to a strategic plan that it has submitted to Postcomm’.

The planned sackings allegedly contained in a 660-page assessment of Royal Mail’s proposals to improve productivity that was prepared for Postcomm by international consultancy LECG.

Denton added: ‘The threat to jobs comes from Postcomm by opening up the postal service to competition.

‘Yet Royal Mail is not allowed to compete because it’s not allowed to compete on price.’

LECG consultants also reportedly recommended a cut in pay, claiming postal workers on a typical £372 a week, including overtime and allowances, are overpaid.

The CWU’s Denton told News Line: ‘£372 is a hundred pounds less than the national average. Postal workers are not overpaid.’