Baghdad under curfew; no “state of emergency”

No “state of emergency,” eh? Just like there’s no civil war. These distinctions appear to be rather semantic. From Al-Arab, June 23:

Iraq’s government will impose a curfew in Baghdad on Friday, from 2 p.m. (10:00 GMT) until 6 a.m.(02:00GMT) on Saturday, banning the movement of people and vehicles, state television reported.

There was already an 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (07:00- 11:00GMT) ban on traffic in the capital.

It was not immediately clear why the government imposed a curfew, but there is an ongoing security clampdown in Baghdad.

National Security Adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie denied media reports that a state of emergency had been declared.

“This is absolutely false. There is no state of emergency. It is only a curfew,” Rubaie said.

He would not say whether the curfew was imposed after clashes broke out in central Baghdad.
No deaths were reported.

Al Qaeda in Iraq, which has pledged to avenge the killing of its leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a U.S. air strike two weeks ago, has launched bloody attacks in Baghdad despite the 10-day government crackdown.

Al Qaeda has attacked Shi’ite mosques as part of a campaign to spark a sectarian civil war.

Fridays, when mosques are normally crowded during noon prayers, have been a favourite target of al Qaeda militants.

Senior al Qaeda militant captured

The U.S. military said on Friday it had captured a senior al Qaeda in Iraq member near an area where the group’s leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. air strike two weeks ago.

It said three other militants were detained during U.S.-led raids on Monday southwest of Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad.

The statement did not mention the name of the senior al Qaeda militant but said he was known for “facilitating” foreign fighters throughout central Iraq.

Zarqawi was killed on June 7 after a U.S. war plane dropped two 500-pound bombs on his “safe house” near Baquba.

U.S.-led forces have conducted frequent raids near Baquba and the rest of Diyala province, where al Qaeda militants are highly active.

Note that not even the name of this supposed al-Qaeda leader is given. More from today’s Al-Arab:

Bomb kills ten in village where US killed Zarqawi

A bomb killed at least 10 people outside a mosque on Friday in the same village where al Qaeda in Iraq’s leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. air strike two weeks ago, police and the Interior Ministry said.

The bomb was left in a bag outside a Sunni mosque in the village of Hibhib, near Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad.

Zarqawi, a Sunni militant, was killed in the U.S. air raid on June 7.

The bomb blast came amid a wave of violence in the capital and the southern oil city of Basra, where a car bomb killed at least 10 people and wounded 15 earlier on Friday, police said.

And still more from today’s Al-Arab:

Suicide blast in Basra kills ten

Two suicide bombers have blown themselves up near a petrol station in a densely populated area of Basra killing at least ten people and injuring many more, local police said Friday.

At the moment of the explosion there were long queues of people waiting to fill up on petrol at the station, in the old part of Basra.

A state of emergency has been in force in southern Iraqi since last month in a bid by the new prime minister Nouri al-Maliki to curb the sectarian clashes and violence which has wracked Iraq’s second largest city in recent months.

Not looking real good, is it?

See our last posts on Iraq and the interminable sectarian cleansing.