Building a moat, bulldozing soccer fields: Iraq takes unusual measures to curb rising violence

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Associated Press

Posted on September 11, 2013 at 4:33 AM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 11 at 4:33 AM

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi authorities are resorting to desperate measures to quell rising violence, ordering huge numbers of cars off the roads, bulldozing soccer fields and even building a medieval-style moat around one city in an effort to keep car bombs out.

Over the weekend, authorities began banning several hundred thousand vehicles from Baghdad streets each day in a bid to stop the increasing number of car bombings. Cars with license plates ending in odd numbers are allowed on the streets one day, followed by cars with even-numbered plates the next. Government cars, taxis, trucks and a few other categories of vehicles are exempted from the policy.

Deadly violence, much of it caused by car bombs, has spiked in recent months as insurgents capitalize on rising sectarian and ethnic tensions. The U.N. says more than 4,000 people have been killed over the past five months alone.

Still, many Iraqis question the security benefits of the heavy-handed efforts, complaining that they only add to the daily struggle of living in a country weathering its worst bout of bloodshed since 2008.

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