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Baghdad's al-Sarafiyah Bridge Reopens


A major bridge in Baghdad that spans the Tigris River reopened Tuesday with much fanfare, 13 months after terrorists bombed the landmark and killed more than 10 people. Iraqi officials say they are celebrating more than a bridge reopening; they are celebrating successes over terrorist forces. VOA's Suzanne Presto reports from the northern city of Irbil.

Standing beneath the al-Sarafiyah Bridge, schoolchildren waved their hands in the air, the bright floral corsages on their wrists punctuating their words, as they sang about their love for Iraq.

They provided entertainment for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other high level officials at the reopening of one of Baghdad's major bridges.

Only 13 months ago, the scene at this landmark was the opposite of joyful. On April 12, 2007, a suicide truck bomber targeted the bridge, destroying 180 meters of its length, sending cars into the Tigris below and killing more than 10 people.

But Tuesday, the scene was festive.

The prime minister says the celebrations symbolize that Iraq will defeat terrorists.

Mr. Maliki said the idea was not just to open a bridge, but to send a message to an ignorant and sadistic culture that there are forces at work to stop such dark powers.

The Minister of Housing and Construction, Bayan Dizayee, remembered the people who died on the bridge and those who tried to save the victims. She also thanked the three companies that worked on the reconstruction project, and the United States for its offers to help rebuild the landmark.

But she said the ministry refused the much appreciated offers of American assistance. She said it wanted Iraqis to show that they have the power and responsibility to rebuild their country.

To complete the re-opening ceremony, the prime minister and other dignitaries crossed the bridge, as an Iraqi flag hung down from the bridge's center and signs declaring "Reconstruction is Our Duty" decorated its sides.

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