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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 July 2006, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
Baghdad insecurity: Iraqi voices
Five people were killed in a car bombing near Green Zone
Violence continues in Baghdad despite a security crackdown

Thousands of Iraqis are fleeing the capital every day to escape the deadly sectarian violence.

The attacks over the past few days have been directed at Iraqis more than coalition forces.

Three Baghdad residents reveal what life is like for them.


NADHAL, ENGINEER 40s

The sectarian issue is being created by militias from both sides to make us hate each other.

I live in a mainly Shia area, but even those who are different, we like each other. We have lived side by side for many years. We still talk and eat together.

Most of the shops are closed, the streets are really empty.

We are still going to work, but we are really frightened. Many people in government ministries are being kidnapped or killed.

It is a big risk for me and my family staying here. All my friends are thinking of leaving.

It is the school holidays, but my children can't do anything. They can't even watch TV because we only have three to five hours of electricity a day.

AHMED, DOCTOR, 32

Over the past two days the conflict between Sunnis and Shias has really come out into the open. It was there before, but more hidden.

Many people are leaving Baghdad for neighbouring countries or for the north, Kurdistan. A friend of mine who has a travel agency says at least 10,000 people are leaving the capital every day.

The government is in partnership with the militias

I sent my family to Cairo a month ago. I send them my salary.

Militias from both sides are playing with religion to stay in authority. If a Shia leader uses his militia to kill Sunnis, he gives the impression he can protect his own people. It works the other way round too.

The government is unwilling to tackle the militias, because it is in partnership with them. Especially the Interior and Defence Ministries.

Now when I see a checkpoint as I drive to work, I wonder if I should tell them I am Shia or Sunni. It may not be a real checkpoint.

If the authorities cannot control Baghdad, how will they control Iraq?

ALI, NGO WORKER

I was out of the country for six weeks. When I left in May, the security problems were in the outskirts of Baghdad. Now the problems are in the centre.

People only leave their homes for emergencies now.

A woman grieves at her wounded son's bedside
Sectarian tensions are rising in Baghdad

Nobody used to say if they were Shia or Sunni, but now it has become a political thing.

I think the Americans fuelled the religious problems, even if they didn't mean to.

The US tried to impose democracy, but we are not used to listening to others' views. We are used to having just one leader. So the first thing you do is protect yourself, then your brother, your cousin and your neighbourhood.

If the Americans leave now they will create a real civil war. In the short term the security situation will get worse and worse.

I will not leave the country. If everyone goes, what hope do we have?






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