Baghdad citizens celebrate end of curfew | News | DW | 08.02.2015
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Baghdad citizens celebrate end of curfew

Revelers in Baghdad have celebrated into the early hours after the Iraqi government lifted a decade-long curfew. Hours earlier, two bombings in the Iraqi capital killed and wounded dozens of people.

The streets of central Baghdad were filled with young Iraqis on Saturday night after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi lifted a curfew which had largely been in place since 2004.

Under the curfew, Baghdad residents had been told to stay at home between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m.

Families as well as groups of young men driving cars and waving flags were seen celebrating in the Iraqi capital into the small hours.

"Before, we felt like we were in a prison," a cafe owner, Faez Adbullillah Ahmed, told AFP news agency.

The curfew was originally enforced as part of a longstanding policy which aimed to curb violence in the capital at night.

Al-Abadi decided last week to bring the curfew to an end, with his office saying that the move would allow there to "be normal life as much as possible, despite the existence of a state of war."

The strict measure failed, however, to prevent deadly bombings which continue to plague Baghdad.

'Islamic State' attack

Just hours before the curfew was lifted on Saturday, a suicide bomber detonated explosives in the Shiite neighborhood of New Baghdad, killing some 14 people and wounding at least 38, according to police officials.

Shortly afterward, two improvised explosive devices positioned 25 meters (27 yards) apart went off at the popular Shorja market, killing at least 11 people and wounding at least 26, according to police.

SITE Intelligence Group, a US-based terrorism monitor, later said that the "Islamic State" (IS) militant group had claimed responsibility for the first attack.

Despite the ongoing conflict between Iraqi forces and jihadist extremists, Baghdad has remained relatively calm in recent months. Some bombings, however, have been known to target Shiite-majority areas in the city.

ksb/cmk (AP, AFP)

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