Defiant Gunfire After
Iraq Soccer Team Wins Asia Cup
Sunday, July 29, 2007
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Defying orders from authorities, revelers fired celebratory gunshots and poured into the streets after Iraq beat Saudi Arabia to clinch its first Asian Cup soccer championship on Sunday.
Mosques broadcast calls to stop the shootings, which killed at least four people. Security forces enforced a vehicle ban in an effort to prevent a repeat of car bombings that killed dozens celebrating
Iraqis welcomed the victory as a chance to show the world they can come together and expressed frustration that their politicians couldn't do the same.
"Those heroes have shown the real
The Iraqi team, known as the "Lions of the Two Rivers" beat three-time champions
The jubilation over the victorious run of the team has given Iraqis a rare respite from the daily sectarian attacks, with men of all ages cheering and dancing in the streets after each win.
But extremists seemed just as determined to destroy national pride and unity. Two car bombs tore through crowds of revelers in two
An Iraqi military official said police had foiled a homicide car bomber on Sunday by opening fire as the attacker took aim at a crowd in southwestern
Elsewhere, the mood was festive. In
"This winning has united the Iraqis and nobody has been this since a long time," said Yassir Mohammed, a 35-year-old Sunni from western
Hundreds of people also gathered in the Kurdish city of
Iraqi politicians were quick to try to take advantage of the win.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office issued a statement congratulating the team and said each member would receive $10,000 for their achievements. The Shiite leader's office said earlier that it had planned to send a Cabinet delegation to the game, but had problems getting overflight permissions from countries it would have to cross en route to
The statement did not single out any countries or give more details.
At least four people were killed and 17 wounded by the shooting that broke out after Sunday's game, according to initial reports by police and hospital officials.
Police in the predominantly Shiite southern city of
The vehicle ban — which began about a half hour before the game started and was to last through Monday morning — covered everything from cars and trucks to bicycles, motorcycles and carts. The ban was issued to keep "terrorists, Sunni extremists and criminals from targeting the joy of the people over the achievements of the Iraqi national team," Iraqi military spokesman Qassim al-Moussawi said in an announcement broadcast on state television.
The celebratory gunfire ignored pleas from both government and religious authorities after shots killed at least seven people following previous victories. The government had warned that anybody firing weapons in the air Sunday would be arrested.
"We call upon people to stick to two important recommendations," Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf said at a news conference.
"People should keep their celebrations within their own areas while security forces step up measures at the entry points to the areas," he said. "Anybody caught shooting will be arrested and tried according to the Iraqi civil law."
Al-Moussawi said that would include Iraqi security forces.
"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 an interview.
In unrelated violence Sunday, gunmen opened fire on shoppers in a Shiite Turkomen village southwest of the oil-rich city of
A bomb also struck a minibus in eastern
Separately, Iraqi lawyers in