BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. Marines looking for hardcore Iraqi fighters searched rooms early Tuesday in the hotel that serves as headquarters for most foreign journalists in Baghdad, apparently taking some people into custody.
The Marines had keys to the rooms, but in cases where the doors were bolted, they kicked them down, rousting journalists from their beds and pointing M-16s in their faces, footage from Associated Press Television News showed.
Marines were seen guarding suspects in a hall; interrogating a man who claimed to be a cameraman; and breaking down a door to get to the roof.
Four Iraqi men who did not have proper identification were detained in the raid that began at about 7 a.m.
The Marines had information that Fedayeen paramilitary fighters might be hiding there, military officials said. Arms were also believed to be hidden there.
"This building wasn't 100 percent safe and we're making sure it is," Marine Sgt. Jose Guillen said. "There weren't any gunshots or anything, but intelligence thought it wasn't 100 percent safe."
The raids hit the 16th and 17th floors, where journalists with Turkish TV, Japanese TV and other networks were staying. It was unclear how many rooms were searched in the 18-story hotel overlooking the Tigris River.
A television producer said she opened her door to find armed Marines, who ordered her to get down while they searched the room without explanation.
"There was definitely tension," she said. "They were definitely looking for someone."
After the Marines left her room, she said, she saw three men who appeared to be Iraqis in the hallway, sitting cross-legged, their hands behind their backs, under Marine guard.
Last week, an American tank opened fire on the Palestine Hotel because of what the U.S. military said was enemy fire coming from the building. Two journalists were killed and three others wounded.