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War on Iraq

Baghdad Not As "Secure" As Government Claims, Residents Say

"The only sign of relative security is that fewer Americans are being killed. Otherwise, almost everything is the same."
The security situation in Baghdad has been aggravated recently amid a rise in car bombings and attacks directed mainly at government troops.

Residents say conditions are worsening in the Iraqi capital once again despite the heavy presence of Iraqi security forces and a surge in number of checkpoints.

The troops regularly cordon off streets and areas, set up temporary checkpoints and shut streets and bridges to traffic.

Some residents spend most of the day in their cars before reaching their offices or shops.

"There is a direct link between traffic jams and security. Congested streets in Baghdad are an indication of an upsurge in insecurity," said a resident refusing to be named.

Snipers have returned to the city but now they aim their bullets solely at Iraqi troops.

Car bombers have made a comeback with three major bombings killing and injuring scores of people last week.

"The only sign of relative security is that fewer Americans are being killed. Otherwise, almost everything is the same," said another resident on condition of anonymity.

Troops are being deployed and redeployed in the light of needs and attacks.

Some Iraqi army units are applying U.S. Marines' methods during their deployment. They try to close roads they use to traffic and forbid Iraqi drivers approaching their convoys.

The universities in Baghdad complain that attacks and traffic jams have made it difficult to resume teaching on a regular basis after the summer holidays.

"We cannot guarantee that attendance of both staff and faculty will return to normal under these conditions," said a Baghdad University official.

Last week a car laden with explosives went off in the district of Bayaa, killing nine people and injuring 15.

Lt. Gen. Qassem Atta, an army spokesman, said there has been "a notable rise in the number of snipers" in Baghdad recently.

He said two soldiers at a checkpoint were killed by sniper fire in the Mansour Disctrict. "The troops have cordoned off the area in search of the criminals," he said.

Two more soldiers have been killed by sniper fire in Baghdad, Atta said.

More attacks have targeted army patrols and checkpoints in the Palestine District, according to Atta.
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