SLUG: 2-302127 Baghdad/Looting (L)
INTRO: There has been no let up in the looting and violence in Baghdad. Maura Fogarty reports from our Middle East Bureau in Cairo.
TEXT: In downtown Baghdad, shops remain shuttered, some with armed store owners keeping guard outside, trying to protect their property.
Looters have ransacked Baghdad's antiquities museum, stealing treasures dating back thousands of years. Inside the museum, glass from shattered display cases litters the floor, along with pieces of broken pottery.
The museum's deputy director, Nabhal Amin, says about 170-thousand priceless items had been looted or destroyed.
But she says some of the museum's most valuable artifacts had been moved into safe storage before the U-S-led coalition attacked Iraq. Part of the museum collection was damaged during the 1991 Gulf war.
Ms. Amin says she blames U-S troops for not protecting the museum, despite appeals from its staff.
The Iraqi National museum houses items dating back to the first civilization in Mesopotamia, ancient Babylon and five-thousand-year-old tablets bearing some of the earliest known writing.
Baghdad has been a city in chaos and anarchy since Wednesday. Many residents are afraid to leave their homes because of the violence, and are increasingly frustrated with the lawlessness.
After U-S forces reopened two key bridges across the Tigris River Saturday, looters pillaged new areas on the west bank of the river. Much of the looting has been focused on government buildings and the homes of former regime leaders, as well as hospitals, schools and some foreign embassies.
The United States has promised it will send in police and judicial officers to help restore order. (signed)
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