Iraq: Noor Muhammad, Iraq, "I was cooking for him but he was already dead"

BAGHDAD, 18 June 2007 (IRIN) - As Noor Muhammad, 36, was cooking dinner for her family in their Baghdad home two months ago, she heard her son scream from the living room. He had just seen his father dead on TV.

Marwan Muhammad was shot dead as he was leaving his shop in the Alawi District of the capital. Noor, a mother of three, never imagined her husband would die like that, and never thought she would learn of his death in that manner. Now she struggles to find ways to raise her children without her husband's income.

"I was cooking for him but he was already dead. When my son screamed my name, crying, I ran to the living room and saw his father lying on the ground with bullets in his body on an Iraqi TV channel. The presenter was saying that he was one of the victims of an exchange of fire between insurgents and Iraqi soldiers in Alawi District.

"I got frantic and confused, dropping to the ground on my knees and begging God to tell me that it was all a mistake - that the person wasn't my husband, even though I could see that the dead man was wearing the same clothes that my husband was wearing when he left home in the morning.

"It was around seven in the evening and I couldn't do anything. I called my brother asking for help but I was so hysterical that he thought I was crazy and didn't believe my story.

"The next day, early in the morning, I went to the local morgue with my neighbour and the grim reality became true. Marwan was lying on a table, his body completely covered with blood as a result of the five bullets in it.

"My life became a disaster after he got killed. Our shop was taken over by locals in the district after they found out Marwan had been killed. I couldn't even get to the door. My brother went to see if we could do something and some people threatened him.

"Marwan didn't leave us money, only the shop. In the past year, we were living on the little income we got from our shop, but couldn't save any money. My children are aged five to 12 years old and have a lot of daily expenses. Marwan's family has left Iraq and my family is very poor - nearly all of them are displaced.

"I don't have money to pay the next rent on my house. I'm afraid that I'll have to sell everything in it and try to find a camp [for displaced people] to live with my children before I or my children become the next victims to appear on Iraqi TV."