Baghdad returns to normal after curfew


A nervous normality returned to Iraq's capital today after a 24-hour curfew imposed after US troops arrested a top politician's bodyguard suspected of a plot to bomb the heavily fortified government compound.

The curfew was lifted at 6am and traffic converged on central Baghdad's busy streets as shops and businesses re-opened for the start of the full working week.

Though there is a daily overnight curfew and cars are banned during weekly prayers on Fridays, Saturday's blanket ban on all movement, even on foot, was unusually severe and disrupted the social life normally associated with the holy month of Ramadan.

Just west of Baghdad, in the minority Sunni stronghold of Falluja, a car bomb killed four people and wounded six in a busy vegetable market, police said. On Friday, US troops arrested a security guard at the home of the leader of the main Sunni Arab political bloc, Adnan al-Dulaimi.

They said the man planned suicide attacks in the government's "Green Zone" and may have had links to al-Qaeda. "The detained individual is suspected of involvement in the planning of a multi-vehicle suicide operation inside Baghdad's International Zone," the military said yesterday.

A senior official in the Accordance Front named the arrested man as Khudhar Farhan and said he was in his mid-20s and had joined Mr Dulaimi's security staff about a month ago.

Mr Dulaimi leads the Front, the largest Sunni bloc in parliament. US officials fear an increase in violence during Ramadan. Suicide bombings were at an all-time high during the first week.