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Iraqis Ban Cars, Impose Curfew For Soccer Final

From those fans of blood sports at the Associated Press:


Iraqi authorities impose vehicle bans

By BUSHRA JUHI, Associated Press Writer

Iraqi authorities announced a ban on vehicles and celebratory gunfire around Baghdad in an effort to prevent a repeat of violence that killed dozens celebrating Iraq’s progress to Sunday’s finals of Asia’s top soccer tournament.

Government offices also told employees to go home early as the nation braced for anticipated massive street parties in the event of an Iraqi win against Saudi Arabia. A victory was expected to send thousands of people into the streets to celebrate — as they did after earlier games in the runup to the finals.

The office of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said in a statement that it had planned to send a Cabinet delegation to the game, but that it was not possible to organize a charter flight due to technical issues related to “the flight’s path and overflight permissions by countries through which the plane would have to cross en route to Jakarta.”

The statement did not single out any countries or give more details.

The jubilation over the ascension of the team known as the “Lions of the Two Rivers” to Sunday’s final in Jakarta, Indonesia, in the quarterfinals and semifinals gave Iraqis a rare respite from the daily violence. The victorious run sent men of all ages cheering and dancing in the streets in what politicians said was a show of unity that proved Iraqi factions could come together.

But extremists seemed just as determined to destroy national pride and unity. Two car bombs tore through crowds of revelers in two Baghdad neighborhoods, killing 50 people after Wednesday’s semifinal against South Korea.

Undeterred by the violence, optimistic Iraqi soccer fans prepared to celebrate if their national team beats Saudi Arabia and takes the Asian Cup for the first time. But many said they would be more cautious after this match…

Authorities also warned that anybody firing weapons in the air illegally would be arrested, after celebratory gunfire killed at least seven people in the aftermath of previous victories…

“Security forces are allowed to participate in the celebrations but without shooting into the air, otherwise they will face judicial measures,” he told The Associated Press in a separate interview…

Gee, things are almost as bad in Iraq as they are in Detroit or Houston.

Still, this sentence jumps out:

The jubilation over the ascension of the team known as the “Lions of the Two Rivers” to Sunday’s final in Jakarta, Indonesia, in the quarterfinals and semifinals gave Iraqis a rare respite from the daily violence.

The problem is they don’t really seem to want a respite.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, July 29th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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