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Stray bullets kill 4 as Iraqis celebrate Asian Cup triumph

  • Story Highlights
  • Woman at Baghdad military base dubs national team "heroes" after historic win
  • Prime Minister announces each player to receive $10,000
  • Jubilant Iraqis in Baghdad ignore gunfire, vehicle ban after 1-0 win
  • Violence after previous Iraqi wins in Asian Cup has killed at least 50 people
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Celebratory gunfire erupted across the capital Sunday when Iraq's soccer team won the Asian Cup, in a 1-0 shutout against three-time champions Saudi Arabia.

A soldier takes position Sunday in central Baghdad after a vehicle ban was announced in the Iraqi capital.

Stray bullets killed four people and wounded 17 others in the capital, an official with the Iraqi interior Ministry told CNN.

An Iraqi woman who was among military workers watching the game from a U.S.-Iraqi military base labeled the team members "heroes."

"This is our victory," said the woman, who was interviewed by CNN but would not allow her face to appear on camera because of security concerns.

U.S. soldiers at the base joked that, with the victory, the war was over and they could return home, CNN's Arwa Damon reported.

Iraqi state television showed the players, draped in Iraqi flags, hoisting pewter cups aloft as they reached out for the main trophy held by a player on a dais that had been set up in the field. Video Watch Iraqis celebrate in Baghdad »

Confetti filled the air and fireworks lit up the night sky after the game, which was played in Jakarta. The Iraqi team's players ran a victory lap around the field before posing for photographs.

Each of the 23 members of the Iraqi team is to receive $10,000, a prize promised them by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki before the final match, whatever its outcome, Iraq's Youth and Sports Minister Jasim Mohammed Jaafar said.

The team is scheduled to return Wednesday to Baghdad, where they will be greeted by government officials and awarded a special gift from the prime minister, Jaafar said.

During the past week, as the Iraqis ascended to the finals, dozens of people died in soccer-related violence, some from celebratory gunfire and some from attacks.

In an effort to prevent further violence, authorities on Sunday clamped down on security in Baghdad.

Vehicles were banned from the streets of the capital as part of a curfew that began at 4 p.m. (8 a.m. ET) and was scheduled to end at 6 a.m. Monday (10 p.m. Sunday ET).

In the Jordanian capital of Amman, Iraqi exiles drove through the streets, waving Iraqi flags and honking their horns, CNN's Jomana Karadsheh reported.

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In a western Amman neighborhood, hundreds of Iraqi women, children and men danced in the street in celebration. A smiling young man in a wheelchair maneuvered himself through the crowds while an old woman who could barely walk held a small Iraqi flag aloft.

"Baghdad is victorious!" some chanted, while others chanted "Down with terror!"

One woman said the team's victory represents a sign of unity among Iraqis. "We are Shiite, Sunni, Kurd and Christian, we are all united," she said. Wiping away tears of joy, she said it was the first time in years living outside of Iraq that she felt she was at home.

About an hour into the spontaneous celebration, the mood in Amman was dampened as Jordanian security forces used force to disperse the Iraqis. As onlookers booed, the forces shoved a middle-aged Iraqi man into the back of a police SUV.


Nearby, a Jordanian policeman could be seen kicking a young celebrant.

A Jordanian government spokesman referred CNN to police for comment on the matter. Police said the crowds were being dispersed for security reasons. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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