Curfew lifted in Iraq’s Kirkuk after Kurdish vote

Curfew lifted in Iraq’s Kirkuk after Kurdish vote
Kurdish security officials receive instructions at a polling station in the disputed city of Kirkuk, Monday Sept. 25, 2017. (AP/Bram Janssen)
Updated 26 September 2017

Curfew lifted in Iraq’s Kirkuk after Kurdish vote

Curfew lifted in Iraq’s Kirkuk after Kurdish vote

KIRKUK, Iraq: A curfew on parts of Iraq’s Kirkuk was lifted Tuesday and the city was calm despite fears of unrest over a vote on Kurdish independence.
Police said the curfew, imposed during the vote on Monday, had been lifted at 5:00 am (0200 GMT) and an AFP journalist saw heavy traffic and shops opening as normal.
“The situation is stable and normal,” Kirkuk police chief Khattab Omar Aref said.
The city of about one million is divided between Arab, Kurdish and Turkmen populations and took part in the independence vote despite not being part of northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region.
The curfew was imposed in the city center, as well as in Arab and Turkmen neighborhoods, as night fell on Monday. Police said the move was to ensure public security and protect the city’s residents.
Baghdad denounced Monday’s vote as illegal and raised particular concern over the fact it was being held in disputed areas outside the boundaries of Iraqi Kurdistan. Results were to be announced later on Tuesday and an overwhelming “yes” victory was expected.
The non-Arab Kurds say that historically Kirkuk belongs to them, arguing that the late dictator Saddam Hussein chased them out and replaced them with Arabs.
The curfew did not apply in Kurdish areas of Kirkuk, where residents celebrated voting with music, fireworks and shots fired in the air.