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Tense Iraqis ponder future

Baghdad, Feb. 24 (Reuters): Iraqis spoke fearfully of their future today after a curfew failed to halt a wave of revenge killings that has claimed more than 200 lives in Baghdad alone in the two days since the bombing of a major Shia shrine.

“If the situation continues there will be a civil war. It will get to the point where you have to sleep with a weapon by your side,” said a man who gave his name as Mohammed. He was one of the rare pedestrians to venture out onto a normally crowded Baghdad street. Few others dared go out in defiance of a security clampdown aimed at calming sectarian bloodshed triggered by Wednesday’s suspected al Qaida bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, north of Baghdad.

“I am scared for my life because I am a Shia living in a Sunni area. People know me well but I am scared of the terrorists. I hope the curfew will stop the killing,” said a pharmacist. At the usually bustling Tahrir Square, some shopkeepers whose businesses have long suffered from post-war violence wondered how long the curfew would be in place. “The shops are closed today. Then will they be closed for one week or two weeks'” asked storekeeper Dhia Zaid.

Saudi attack foiled

Saudi security today foiled an attack on the huge Abqaiq oil facility by three cars armed with explosives, firing on them as they rammed the outer gates of the facility. Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi said oil exports had been unaffected.

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