Baghdad: "capital of terror"

CNC report from Baghdad
Added On June 27, 2013

We start in Iraq. Over the past few months, sectarian violence has become so commonplace that there is again talk of civil war. The capital in particular has suffered badly from the attacks by suicide bombers and gunmen.

Lifestyles takes you to Baghdad.

According to data provided by the UN, 1,045 people died in May in Iraq due to violent conflicts and terrorist attacks. Half of the incidents happened in the capital Baghdad, which makes Baghdad a veritable "capital of terror". Approximately, 20 people die here every day because of car bombs, street bombs or gunfights. Cafes, markets, mosques and bus stations are all targets of terrorist attacks, which claim the lives of innocent people, including children.

Ali runs a cafe in Baghdad's commercial district of Karrada. Though he looks relaxed as he smokes his hookah, he is very worried indeed. He thought the newly renovated cafe would draw in more young customers, but recent blasts targeting cafes, restaurants and malls have inevitably dragged down business.

SOUNDBITE 1 (ARABIC) ALI, Cafe owner:
"Of course, people are afraid because if there is peace for one day, soon there will be three or four days of unrest. As we have lately seen, a few days ago, there was a blast in a coffee shop in Amreiyah, so, surely people are afraid."

Despite the danger, Ali still needs to keep the cafe open. When there are many customers, they have to be more alert to watch out for suicide bombers.

SOUNDBITE 2 (ARABIC) ALI, Cafe owner:
"Now, for example, the waiters are responsible for searching customers, especially those holding a bag. We also have to observe them carefully. If anyone looks suspicious, we won't let him in."

Waitress Kanar has worked here for a month. She escaped from a bomb attack at the cafe where she used to work.

SOUNDBITE (ARABIC): KANAR, Cafe staff
"As for my own experience, I worked at another place before. It was bombed, but what could we do? I helped the owner renovate the shop and we reopened, as if nothing had happened."

Another restaurant in the district also has only a few customers. Abdul-Sattar works here and he is deeply troubled by the current situation. 

SOUNDBITE (ARABIC): ABDUL-SATTAR, Restaurant staff
"Certainly, I wouldn't let my sons go (to coffee shops) because there will be problems and I am responsible for their safety. I could lose my kids (in such bombings). Of course, the restaurant owner would also be affected. The attacks these days target civilians and that is unacceptable."

Baghdad is taking serious precautions to improve the security of the city. However, terrorists can still wage massive organized attacks despite the countless checkpoints and blast walls. People in Baghdad can only face the situation with courage and keep hope that peace might come to the country some day in the future.