Baghdad wall receives hostile welcome

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A three-mile wall being constructed in central Baghdad has been met with widespread opposition from those living within the area it encloses.

US forces responsible for ensuring security within the Iraqi capital began construction of the 12ft-high wall on April 10th and hope to complete it by the end of the month.

The wall shuts off the Sunni district of Adhamiya from the rest of the eastern side of the Tigris, which is predominantly Shia.

American officials have said the wall is a physical barrier designed to both keep the Sunnis in and the Shias out of the Adhamiya district amid ongoing sectarian violence.

Residents of Adhamiya have angrily criticised the wall, which they believe does not represent a long-term solution to the problems faced by Baghdad and the rest of Iraq.

"I don't think this wall will solve the city's serious security problems. It will only increase the separation between our people, which has been made so much worse by the war," civil servant Ahmed Abdul-Sattar told the AFP news agency.

Commentators have said it bears striking resemblances to previous 'walls', including the Israeli-Palestinian border 'fence' and the 'peace lines' maintained in Northern Ireland to separate Protestants and Catholics.

The wall forms part of US president George Bush's last-ditch attempt to ensure security for the struggling democracy in post-Saddam Iraq. This year has seen the initiation of a "troop surge" which will see 28,000 reinforcements deployed to the Middle Eastern country.

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