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Protests as U.S. closes Iraqi paper

Publishers accused of inciting violence


BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Several thousand Iraqis protested the closure of a newspaper Sunday, chanting anti-U.S. slogans and burning American flags outside the newspaper's office in Baghdad.

The U.S.-led civil administration in Iraq closed the Baghdad newspaper Al Hawsa for 60 days, accusing its publishers of inciting violence against coalition troops.

The paper is published by followers of prominent Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

"If the Coalition forces are going to keep on presenting us with such messages... they can just dream about any sort of end to terrorism," a statement from the newspaper said. "And they can also dream that we will stay quiet and step down from what we believe."

The Coalition Provisional Authority accused the paper's editors of printing articles that incited violence against U.S. and other coalition troops -- a violation of coalition regulations.

The building was sealed, and anyone caught attempting to publish the paper could face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Sadr is the son of Shiite imam Muhammad Baqr al-Sadr, a prominent leader assassinated in 1999. A vocal critic of the American occupation of Iraq, he has a substantial following in the Shiite district of Baghdad that now bears his father's name.

In July, Iraqi police closed a newspaper they accused of running a "clearly inciteful" article calling on Iraqis to kill "all spies and those who cooperate with the U.S."

Baghdad blast wounds 4

Four Iraqi civilians were wounded Sunday, two seriously, in an explosion in the Baghdad neighborhood of Al-Karkh, said Brig. Ali Khazaal, an Iraqi police spokesman.

The blast appeared to have been the result of a buried improvised bomb, he said.

"There were four people injured in this attack, and they were rushed over to the hospital," he Khazaal said. "Two people were lightly injured and two people were severely injured. All of them are being treated."

The names of those injured were not known.

In the northern Iraqi city of Mosul Sunday, two civilians -- one British, one Canadian -- were killed in an attack.

The foreign ministries of each country confirmed the deaths, but said no details had been released.

A U.S. military spokesman in Iraq could only confirm "an incident that is being investigated by coalition forces and Iraqi police."

A military spokesman in Iraq could only confirm "an incident that is being investigated by coalition forces and Iraqi police" in Mosul.

A convoy carrying an Iraqi cabinet minister came under attack Sunday in northern Iraq, a coalition spokeswoman and a Kurdish official told CNN.

Nisreen Berwari, Iraq's minister of municipalities and public works, survived unscathed, but her driver and a bodyguard were killed, said coalition spokeswoman Kristi Clemens. Two others were wounded, Clemens said.

Qubad Talibani, a Kurdish official and son of an Iraqi Governing Council member, said the attack was an assassination attempt, but Clemens said it was not known whether Berwari was specifically targeted.

CNN's Vivian Paulsen, Eden Pontz and Kianne Sadeq contributed to this report.

 
 
 
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