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Last Updated: Monday, 1 September, 2003, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK
Baghdad diary
John Hughes-Jones in Baghdad
As violence continues against coalition troops in Iraq, the pressure builds on those charged with the task of restoring law and order.

Back in May, it was announced that a team of police experts from the UK were being sent to Iraq to advise on rebuilding the Iraqi police force

Among them was North Wales Police Superintendent John Hughes-Jones. Here he takes time out of his work to share the diary of his last working week with News Online readers.


Tuesday, 19th August,2003

A routine day sitting with my American and Iraqi colleagues mulling over the Iraqi Ministry of Interior budget bids for 2004 is shattered by the sound of a large explosion which rattles the windows of the Coalition Provisional Authority building in central Baghdad.

On the horizon a column of smoke becomes visible and we learn fairly quickly that there's been an explosion at the UN building a few miles away.

Destroyed UN building
Meeting shattered by the UN blast which killed 17

This starts a furious round of phone calls to the other team members whom we know are somewhere in the city.

Two are close to the scene and I can hear the noise and the chaos in the background as I speak to them, thankfully they're ok.

The full extent of the horror becomes known as the evening unfolds and an air of sadness and anxiety lies heavy on us all.

Wednesday, 20th. August, 2003


We are instructed to remain in our hotel - the fallout from the previous day's attack unfolds on the US news channels..

The Ministry of Interior police advisory team, eight Americans and myself, are based in a downtown hotel in Baghdad which has taken on the guise of a fortress.

An impromptu mid-morning team meeting to discuss overall security issues is interrupted by a large explosion from the back of our hotel, the windows shake and momentarily we're all stunned.

We can clearly see smoke pouring out of a building in the neighbouring street.

Iraqi police officers
A goal is set of deploying 65,000 police officers around the country

Some sort of device was detonated in an empty shop premises, fortunately there are no casualties, but it adds to the general feeling of uneasiness.

I get e-mails from people I worked with in Bosnia and from my own chief constable enquiring about my welfare and offering their support, all very welcome.

Thursday, 21st. August, 2003


We travel in convoy through the chaotic Baghdad traffic to the palace which houses the Coalition Provisional Authority.

This is daily routine, we scan the myriads of faces going about their business in the streets,

The money changers in the thieves market and the street vendors spill out into the road, progress is painfully slow, but people seem largely unconcerned at our presence. Overt hostility is something we've rarely encountered, but we can't be complacent.

The traffic police are on the streets fighting their daily battles with the sheer anarchy of what passes as driving in Baghdad!

Tuesday, 26th. August, 2003


Meetings to discuss police and security issues at Baghdad Airport, and arrangements for a proposed National Police Conference.

At the airport we have identified a potential site for locating a police office and negotiate its release with the airport management and their military counterparts.

the River Tigris mirrors the hundreds of lights along its banks. We enjoy the tranquillity.
Other colleagues are working with their Iraqi counterparts to establish a customs and border regime at this site and others nationwide.

During the evening we sit up on the hotel roof where we have a panoramic view of the Baghdad skyline and the planet Mars which is at its closest point to Earth for 60,000 years.

We're all struck by the number of lights on in the city, the most we've seen since we've been here, and even the nightly gunfire seems sporadic by usual standards, the River Tigris mirrors the hundreds of lights along its banks. We enjoy the tranquillity.

Wednesday, 27th. August,2003


We meet up with Baghdad Police Chief Hassan Ali and one of Baghdad's most senior judges at the Ministry of Justice to discuss the re-establishment of judicial investigators at police stations to assist in the preparation of cases for court.

On a lighter note, during the evening, I follow Manchester United's progress against Wolves on the BBC website.
The courts are slowly being re-opened and a backlog of cases has to be dealt with.

The growing effectiveness of the Baghdad Police in recent weeks has injected a sense of urgency into these discussions as increasing numbers of criminals are being locked up.

The meeting is interrupted and the chief has to leave, two of his officers have just been shot dead trying to arrest some carjackers, the ensuing firefight also killed three bystanders and one of the suspects.

Once again, we're reminded about the ultimate price our colleagues worldwide sometimes have to pay in doing their duty. Coming so close on the heels of the deaths of three British MPs in Basra it underpins our determination to help the Iraqis establish the rule of law in their country, we owe them that much.

On a lighter note, during the evening, I follow Manchester United's progress against Wolves on the BBC website.

Thursday, 28th August, 2003


Attend an awards ceremony for Iraqi police officers who have excelled in their duties.

They are presented by the commander of the 18th Military Police Brigade.

These soldiers have been in Baghdad since its capture and have been instrumental in getting the Baghdad police back on the streets.

They continue to be our support as we seek to establish a fully functioning police service in the city.

The local police officers are being commended for diligence in conducting crime investigations, dedication to duty, and above average performance.




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