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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 October 2006, 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK
Baghdad authorities lift curfew
Deserted street in Baghdad during the curfew
Only security forces were allowed on the streets during the curfew
Authorities in the Iraqi capital Baghdad have lifted a total curfew imposed after intelligence revealed attacks planned for Saturday.

The US military said a security guard detained at the home of a leading Sunni politician was suspected of involvement in planning a series of bombings.

The heavily-fortified central area of Baghdad known as the Green Zone was thought to be the target.

Vehicles and pedestrians were banned from the streets for about 36 hours.

The Iraqi capital's streets were deserted during the curfew, which was in place from Friday evening to 0600 (0200 GMT) on Sunday morning.

As cars returned to the city's streets, interior ministry spokesman Abdel Karim Khalaf said the situation had been peaceful: "No incidents happened," he said.

'Final stages'

The US military said the detained bodyguard was seized at the home of Adnan al-Dulaimi, the leader of the Iraqi Accordance Front, the largest Sunni coalition in the Iraqi parliament.

They said he was a suspected member of al-Qaeda in Iraq, and that he and seven other militants were "in the final stages" of planning a string of car bomb attacks "possibly using suicide vests".

The Iraqi Accordance Front named the arrested man as Khudhar Farhan and said he had been a member of Mr al-Dulaimi's security staff for about a month.

The US military said the operation "in no way implies Dr al-Dulaimi was associated with any illegal activity".

'Days numbered'

Separately, National Security Adviser Muwaffak al-Rubaie said Iraqi forces were close to capturing or killing the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri.

Grab from video said to show Abu Ayyub al-Masri (also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir), thought to be leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq
The video images were said to show militant leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri
"My message to Abu Ayyub al-Masri is that we are closer to you than you can imagine - your days are numbered and you will face your fate very soon," he said.

Mr al-Rubaie showed journalists a video showing a man - which he said was the insurgent leader - explaining how to build a car bomb.

Abu Ayyub al-Masri, said to be also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, is thought to have taken over the leadership of the group after the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi earlier this year.

There's been a renewed upsurge in violence since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, on top of increasing violence in recent weeks despite a massive security operation across the capital.




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