Authorities impose vehicle ban on Baghdad

Friday, March 3, 2006

Iraqi security forces

As of Friday, March 3, police will be ordered to confiscate any private vehicle on the roads of Baghdad during a day-time vehicle ban. The restrictions come on top of the regular night time curfew, which ends at 6 AM, when the new curfew will kick in. Despite the traffic ban, people may walk on foot to their local mosques for Friday prayers.

The curfew is part of the efforts by the Iraqi government to combat escalating violence after the bombings of the golden mosque of Sammarra on the 22nd of February. According to the BBC at least 400 people have died in the violence following the assault on the Shia shrine; the Arab network Al-Jazeera estimates this number to be at least 500.

The security situation in the country as a whole has greatly deteriorated since the attack that triggered a wave of violence between the Shiite and Sunni Muslim groups. The Iraqi administration fears that clerics might encourage violence during the day's Friday prayer, and interim prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari made an appeal on Iraqi TV for the religious leaders, asking them to "express themselves in the language of national unity."