Baghdad reopens bridge closed since deadly stampede
IRAQ: Authorities in Baghdad on Tuesday opened a major bridge
that was closed for more than three years after nearly 1,000 Shiite
pilgrims perished in a deadly stampede.
The move is expected to ease traffic in the bustling capital and help
repair the deep sectarian divisions that have plagued the city since the
eruption of Sunni-Shiite violence in 2006. Scores of people, including
Shiite and Sunni clerics and other Iraqi officials, walked across the
bridge linking historic Sunni and Shiite districts of the capital,
hugging and kissing cheeks in a show of national unity.
“With the progress in stabilising the security situation in Adhamiyah
and Kadhimiyah and the transformation of them from hot areas into secure
areas we decided to reopen the bridge,” Major General Qassim Atta said.
“The citizens from both sides demanded to open the bridge after the
stabilisation of security,” the Baghdad security spokesman added.
Iraqi soldiers had removed concrete barriers on both sides of the
bridge and replaced them with checkpoints ahead of the formal reopening
ceremony. The Al-Aima (Imams) bridge over the Tigris river links the
centuries-old neighbourhoods of Kadhimiyah and Adhamiyah, the former
named for a revered Shiite shrine and the latter built around the tomb
of a famed Sunni lawmaker.
“The opening of the bridge is a hope for the future and a victory for
the will of the Iraqi people now that they have gotten rid of
terrorism,” Moain al-Kadhimi, head of Baghdad’s city council, told
BAGHDAD, Tuesday, AFP