Iraqis have begun tracking down and executing Baath party members, fearing that coalition forces will take insufficient action to punish former middle-ranking members of Saddam Hussein's regime, according to a report in the Washington Post. The assassinations follow a decree issued on 16 May by the US chief civilian administrator, Paul Bremer, barring up to 30,000 party members from power in the new regime. Anyone holding a post in the top four echelons of the party will be proscribed from any public position. However, the measure is reported not to have gone far enough for some Iraqis who want to see a harsher punishment meted out. Some Iraqis on the ground put the number of such executions in Baghdad at several hundred, mainly in the rundown Shia-dominated district formerly known as Saddam City - now renamed Sadr City. Lists of party members and informants were obtained during the looting of government ministries after the fall of the capital.
US forces have been stepping up efforts to get a grip on Baghdad in the light of criticism about their inability to enforce security and prevent looting. More troops are being deployed to the capital, numbers having risen from 16,000 to 25,000 over the past month. Soldiers have been carrying out patrols, arresting looters and people carrying weapons.