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Ban on satellite phones

Central Iraq, March 30 (Reuters): US military commanders in Iraq have banned the use of certain satellite phones carried by journalists attached to their units, apparently fearing the signal could give away their location to Iraqi forces.

Several Reuters reporters with US forces in Iraq today said they had been told to switch their Thuraya satellite phones off. “Officers have ordered me to hand my phone in and I am giving it to one of the officers,” correspondent Matthew Green said. “They say it’s for security, that the Iraqis can use it to triangulate the signal and fire missiles,” Green said.

Questioned on the new rules, Major-Gen. Victor Renuart said: “We want to make sure nothing gets out that may tip the hand of the Iraqis.”

UK soldiers

As Sayliya Camp (Qatar), (Reuters): British authorities today said two of their soldiers were sent home from Kuwait on the eve of war in Iraq, but declined to comment on a report that they could face a court martial. A military spokesman denied that the two had been flown back to Britain for refusing to fight, saying the incident took place before the 11-day-old US-led invasion of Iraq began. The Sunday Times said a private and an air technician from 16 Air Assault Brigade were sent home to their barracks in Colchester, southern England.

Iraq grave

n Washington (Reuters): US military forensics experts are investigating whether a shallow grave discovered at the Iraqi town of Nasiriyah contains the remains of American troops killed by Iraqi forces, officials said yesterday. “We’re not sure who it is at this point,” Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, vice-director, operations, for the military’s Joint Staff, told a Pentagon briefing. He said forensic investigators and mortuary affairs personnel are probing the site in an attempt to identify the remains.

Turkish protest

Mardin (Turkey), (Reuters): Turks hurled stones at a convoy of trucks carrying US military equipment today, the second such attack in two days, the Anatolian news agency said. Witnesses saw around 40 trucks leave an industrial site rented by US forces near the southeastern town of Mardin today, towards ports and airbases on the Mediterranean coast. The convoy was pelted with stones as it passed through the outskirts of the city of Sanliurfa. Villagers bombarded US soldiers with eggs and stones near the same city yesterday when they arrived to recover pieces of a Tomahawk cruise missile, which came down in the area on Friday.

Pope plea

Vatican City (Reuters): Pope John Paul, making a fresh appeal for an end to the war in Iraq, today said the conflict was undermining humanity’s hope for a better future. The 82-year-old Roman Catholic leader, who is firmly opposed to the conflict, asked for prayers for peace during his weekly address to pilgrims and tourists in St Peter’s Square. Yesterday the pope said he hoped the human tragedy of the war would not set Christians and Muslims against each other and spark “a religious catastrophe”.

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