As details of the raid that resulted in the killing of Osama bin Laden are released, Iraqis continued to celebrate the news on Wednesday (May 4th) with spontaneous gatherings across the country.
Many Iraqis handed out pastries, sweets and juice, while others ululated and chanted patriotic slogans denouncing terrorism and the al-Qaeda leader.
In the Mansour district of Baghdad, Abdullah Muhsin, 50, handed out cans of lemonade to shoppers at a mall.
"I lost my son and my nephew in a terrorist attack, for which al-Qaeda claimed credit, near this place last year," he said. "All of that was due to the ideas and calls made by the criminal bin Laden."
Bin Laden was killed in a raid by US forces on May 2nd in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, 60 kilometres northeast of the capital Islamabad.
"It was a day of joy for orphans and widows, and a new day for security and peace in Iraq and the entire world," Muhsin said.
Iraqi political and security leaders expressed their hope that the death of bin Laden would bring greater security to Iraq and the world.
"The world has gotten rid of one of the biggest symbols of evil, a man who had become a manifestation of a grudge and hatred toward humankind," Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said in a message of congratulations sent to US President Barack Obama.
"The killing of bin Laden raises feelings of relief -- not from revenge, retaliation and gloating -- but because this represents the work of justice and the eradication of one the most dangerous sources of injustice and mayhem," Talabani said.
Iraqi forces enhanced security measures after the announcement of bin Laden's death in preparation for potential retaliatory terrorist attacks. Additional forces were deployed in cities, and security forces intensified searches of cars and people.
Still, security forces allowed Iraqis to gather and express their joy.
"Al-Qaeda cells will try to carry out any random attack in response to the killing of their spiritual leader, but the security forces are on guard and will be ready to protect citizens against any retaliatory reaction targeting innocents," said Maj. Gen. Mohammed al-Askari, spokesperson for the Iraqi Ministry of Defence.
In the Karada district of Baghdad, scores of citizens gathered on Wednesday near the Afendi shopping centre, chanting "Long live Iraq", "Yes, yes to freedom and security" and "No, No to terror".
"The world has gotten rid of a danger threatening it," said Aziz Lazim, 43, a government employee. "We feel very happy about the death of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization's leader. This was the best news we have received this year, and we hope we shall get rid of the remaining heads of terrorism in Iraq and the world."
Bassim Mohammed, 30, a trader in Baghdad, said Iraqis were joining people around the world in celebrating the news "because bin Laden does not represent us, he was a common enemy to us and to them".
"The terrorist bin Laden killed thousands of Iraqis and tens of thousands of people across the world because of destructive ideas and plans. Today the world is much better off after he was killed," Mohammed said.
In the city of Hilla, south of Baghdad, scores of citizens gathered near Safie Aldeen al-Hilli square carrying signs that read, "We are orphans, widows and disabled. We share our joy with the world".
"There were no preparations for these celebrations," said Fadhil Chanchun, 39, a taxi driver. "The people came out spontaneously because they could not help themselves after hearing the news."
Nouriya Hassan, 40, distributed candy to neighbours and the crowd at the square.
"This man killed my husband and my son and destroyed my home so I would not have happiness," she said. "But today, I am very happy. If I were better off economically, I would give away fine food too. Today, I have taken my revenge on the killer of innocents."
Residents of Ramadi also celebrated the news of bin Laden's death.
Ali Hummadi, 41, a trader in the city, said his son was killed in 2006 in an attack for which al-Qaeda claimed credit.
"In my entire life I did not see a criminal like bin Laden who compromised Islam to serve his interests. But now bin Laden is dead and al-Qaeda cells will be fragmented," he said. "All of Iraq is happy about this news."