Fear curbs holiday celebrations in Iraq second-largest city
Nineveh province and its capital Mosul are among most dangerous parts of Iraq, with militants carrying out frequent bombings and shootings and also allegedly extorting money from shop owners.
Al-Arab Online By Raad al-Jamas - MOSUL [Published On: 17/10/2013]
Fear generated by near-daily violence has kept residents of Iraq's second-largest city Mosul at home this Eid rather than out celebrating the main Muslim holiday of the year.

Nineveh province and its capital Mosul are among the most dangerous parts of Iraq, with militants carrying out frequent bombings and shootings and also allegedly extorting money from shop owners.

In better times, people would celebrate the Eid al-Adha holiday with visits to friends and family or trips to amusement parks with their children, but not this year.

"We prefer to celebrate Eid with the family at home, rather than going out and being exposed to the risk of bombings," said 27-year-old Taisir Abdulwahab.

Ali Bassam sat near the door of his home in the east Mosul neighbourhood of Al-Zuhur, wearing his new Eid clothes, unable to go out to spend the money given to him by relatives for the holiday.

"Mum and dad wouldn't let us go to the park this Eid because they were worried we wouldn't be safe," the disappointed eight-year-old said.

Despite the efforts of the security forces to rein in the militants, Nineveh province remains plagued by violence.

A suicide bomber blew up a vehicle in a village east of Mosul killing 15 people on Thursday, while two more died in other violence in and around the city.

On October 6, 10 schoolchildren were among 18 dead in suicide bombings at a primary school and a police station outside Mosul.

The previous day, two journalists were gunned down in Mosul, the latest in a long list of people to targeted for assassination in the city.

Leaflets signed by militant groups, including Al-Qaeda front group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, have been circulated around the province calling on security force personnel to desert their posts.

Not everyone in the city chose to stay at home during the holiday.

Near Ali's house, 40-year-old Umm Samir was preparing to take her family to a Mosul amusement park.

"Everyone should challenge the security conditions... and go out," she said.

"If they see anything suspicious, people should tell the security forces."

But her attitude is not shared by many.

Amusement parks, which in happier years would have been packed with children being treated to a holiday day-out, were virtually empty.

"Business is slow this year because of the violence that Mosul is going through, and people's fear that public places may be targeted for attack," said Hassan Aziz, 30, as he watched over the rides at one amusement park.

The security forces' closure of a number of major road junctions around Mosul as a precaution against attacks had also discouraged people from going out, he said.

Sunni-majority Nineveh province is not the only area of Iraq to be hit by violence, which has risen this year to a level not seen since 2008.

Nationwide, violence has killed more than 350 people so far this month, and over 5,050 since the beginning of the year, according to figures based on security and medical sources.