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Iraqi Officials Order Baghdad Curfew Ahead of Saddam Verdict

  • VOA News

Iraqi authorities have ordered a curfew in Baghdad and two surrounding provinces ahead of Sunday's expected verdict in the trial of ousted President Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity.

Officials on Saturday said an indefinite curfew would take effect Sunday morning at 6 a.m. local time (0300 UTC). The curfew bans pedestrian and road traffic, and will cover the Iraqi capital and the flashpoint provinces of Diyala and Salahuddin, which includes Saddam's hometown of Tikrit. Baghdad's international airport will also be closed until further notice.

Military officials say they have placed troops on high alert in advance of the verdict. Saddam and seven codefendants are accused of ordering the murder of nearly 150 Shi'ites from the village of Dujail after an assassination attempt on Saddam in 1982.

It is feared the verdict, in which Saddam faces a possible death penalty, could trigger widespread violence between remaining supporters of the former Iraqi president and his many enemies.

Whatever the verdict, many Iraqis say the trial has already stripped Saddam of his once almost mystical hold over the country. Some say the trial has become secondary to the struggle of many families to simply survive the escalating violence plaguing the country.

Meanwhile, at least 14 people were killed in scattered violence across the country, including at least eight in Baghdad.

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