Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Erbil preparing for New Year Day amid fears of attacks

AK Logo

Erbil, Dec. 27 (AKnews) – Erbil city, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan Region, is preparing for the New Year Day celebrations amid fears of terrorist attacks.Chrismas Tree 2011

Erbil provincial council is preparing events and celebrations to mark the New Year day including live music concerts and fireworks in the public parsk and around the government building.

"Dozens of artists will participate in the music concerts" said Tahir Abdullah, deputy Erbil governor.

Also big screens will show live the celebrations in three different spots in the city, including one on top of the historical citadel in the center of Erbil so that people can watch the events from a better position.

The provincial council has spent 60 million Iraqi Dinars (about US$49,000) on the preparations, Tahir said.

Streets, public parks and the shopping malls in the city are already decorated with colorful lights during the night.

Erbil's Majidi Mall, one of the largest shopping centers in Iraq, has erected a large Chrismas tree in the center of the mall.

"Fireworks in Shandar Park and the surrounding of the provincial council will also add to the beauty of the celebrations" Abdullah said.

But the preparations of the day come amid fears that armed groups may deal a blow on the crowds of the merry-making people in the city which enjoys greater security and stability. The last fatal attack was in 2007 when a truck packed with explosives exploded in front of the regional government's ministry of the interior killed 17 people.

On Sunday night, two sound bombs exploded in Ainkawa, a predominantly Christian-populated town to the west of the city, spreading fear in the hearts of the local Christians and the displaced Iraqi Christians who have fled their homes to the town.

Also, Monday morning, an improvised explosive device consisting of two mortar rockets placed in a crowded area of the city was disarmed by an explosives disposal squad.

Erbil police chief Abdulkhaliq Talaat says they have their own security plan for the day, in cooperation with the other security services.

"The security forces will maintain security of the hotels and public places where celebrations are held." Talaat said.

The security services were expected to release later today a statement about the two explosions in Ainkawa.

(Saman Ali contributed to this story, Edited by Raber Y. Aziz)

Monday, December 27th 2010 4:01 PM