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Relative normality returns as Baghdad curfew ends

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BAGHDAD, Feb 27 (Reuters) The Iraqi capital returned to relative normality today with the end of an extended curfew that had seen a traffic ban to reduce the threat of further violence.

Residents were moving freely, with cars back on the roads under the direction of traffic police, a Reuters journalist reported.

The three-day curfew, over and above the usual overnight ban on movement in the streets, largely dampened sectarian violence that has pitched Iraq towards civil war. However, the weekend was not without incident.

Mortar fire killed 15 people in Baghdad yesterday, with other reports of shooting around two Baghdad mosques. Elsewhere, five people were killed in a minibus and teenagers were shot dead as they played soccer.

More than 200 people have been killed since Wednesday when the Golden Mosque in Samarra was destroyed in a bombing that sparked a wave of tit-for-tat killings and led the defence minister to warn of the danger of ''endless civil war''.

REUTERS CH SND1150

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