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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

20 May 2004

Coalition Provisional Authority Report, May 20: Iraq Update

World Bank to give $40 million to buy textbooks for Iraqis

The Iraqi Ministry of Education has received an emergency $40 million grant from the World Bank to purchase schoolbooks for the fall term, a spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) says.

CPA Senior Adviser Dan Senor said the money would purchase 72 million total copies of more than 600 textbooks for six million students for all 12 grades of the primary and secondary school system in all Iraqi provinces for the upcoming school year. He said CPA Administrator Paul Bremer had worked on the grant with the Education Ministry and the World Bank and received the good news May 20. The spokesman also said the World Bank was working on a $60 million follow-on grant for the ministry to finance the rehabilitation of schools.

Army Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, who briefed along with Senor, noted that 206 new police officers completed their eight-week initial training program at the Mosul Public Safety Academy on May 20. "They will begin patrols immediately," he said.

Kimmitt, who is deputy director for coalition operations of the newly designated Multinational Force Iraq, also said that a weapons reward program begun on May 15 in the Sadr City section of Baghdad has been such "an overwhelming success" that it has been extended two more days.

Under the program, Iraqis are given money for their weapons at equal-to-or-above black market prices. "The cost of an AK-47 (rifle) can actually feed a family in Sadr City for three months," Kimmitt said. Any illegal weapons not turned in during the amnesty period will be seized when the program ends, he added.

As of May 20th, Kimmitt said, more than 3,200 AK-47 assault rifles, 530 (mortar) rocket rounds, 187 rocket-propelled grade (RPG) launchers, 141 machine guns and 87 tank rounds have been redeemed for more than $1.2 million.

On another topic, Kimmitt was asked about casualties taken by the Muqtada militia in Najaf and Karbala. Although he did not have precise figures with him, he said they number "somewhere on the order of 50 to 100 casualties taken by Muqtada's militia" for every one taken by the coalition.

Several reporters asked for details about an incident that occurred May 19 near the Syrian border. The media has reported, variously, that foreign fighters who had been shooting at coalition forces were killed there, or, wedding celebrants were killed at the scene.

Kimmitt said an investigation of the incident, in which close-air support was used, will be conducted. But he pointed out that the military operation was prompted by "significant intelligence," about an area that had been under surveillance "for a long period of time as a place where foreign fighters and smugglers" were entering Iraq. "The ground force that swept through," he said, "found a significant amount of material and intelligence, which validated that attack."

Nevertheless, Kimmitt said it is prudent to investigate and "we may find out new information."

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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