Curfew Eased in Baghdad as Safety Improves

ByABC News

April 3, 2007 — -- The security situation in Baghdad has improved enough that the Iraqi government is going to shorten the capital's imposed curfew.

Residents will be allowed on the streets until 10 p.m., which adds two hours to the cutoff time that existed when U.S. and Iraqi troops began neighborhood sweeps in February.

While Baghdad is still rocked by car bombs every day, right in the center of the city a small area of relative calm has emerged, thanks to the stepped-up U.S. patrols and increased Iraqi checkpoints.

While it remains dangerous for Westerners to travel out of doors in the city, ABC's Terry McCarthy has spent the past week visiting five Baghdad neighborhoods where the locals said life is slowly coming back to normal.

McCarthy visited Haifa Street, otherwise known as "Sniper Street," as it has been considered one of the most dangerous parts of the city.

Now, people who live on Haifa Street say the violence is subdued enough that they can venture back onto the street.

At one tea shop a group of men actually asked the ABC News crew to film them to show life as it returns to normal.

And the improved conditions are already starting to benefit business, according to one shop owner.

"When people heard that it was safe they started coming out and spending money again," said Baghdad store owner Hussein Jihad.

Other signs of improvements: a mosque in Zayouna that was fire-bombed is now open for prayer, and Baghdad's biggest amusement park in Zawra is open again.

"It's safe here," said 12-year-old Abdullah. "There used to be some bullets, but not anymore."

Nobody knows if the small safe zone will expand or get swallowed up again by violence. But for the time being, people here are happy to enjoy a life that looks almost normal.

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