Baghdad: Even as Iraqis celebrated the departure of the last American troops on Sunday, the dangers left behind after nearly nine years of war were on full display. Politicians feuded along the country's potentially explosive sectarian lines and the drumbeat of deadly violence went on.
   
The last US convoy rumbled out of Iraq across the border into Kuwait around sunrise under a shroud of secrecy to prevent attacks on the departing troops. When news reached a waking Iraqi public, there was joy at the end of a presence that many Iraqis resented as a foreign occupation.
   
In the northern city of Mosul, pastry shop owner Muhannad Adnan said he had a swell of orders for cakes -- up to 110 from the usual 70 or so a day -- as families threw parties at home. Some asked him to ice the cakes with inscriptions of "congratulations for the end of occupation," he said.
   
But the happiness was shot through with worries over the future.
   
"Nobody here wants occupation. This withdrawal marks a new stage in Iraq's history," said Karim al-Rubaie, a Shiite shopowner in the southern city of Basra. But, he said, "the politicians who are running this country are just a group of thieves."
   
"These politicians will lead the country into sedition and civil war. Iraq now is like a weak prey among neighbouring beasts."
   
In the morning, a bomb hidden under a pile of trash exploded on a street of spare car parts stores in a mainly Shiite district of eastern Baghdad, killing two people and wounding four others. It was the latest in the near daily shootings and bombings -- low-level but still deadly – that continue to bleed the country and that many fear will increase with the Americans gone.
   
Violence is far lower than it was at the worst of the Iraq War, in 2006 and 2007, when Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias preyed on Iraqis around the country in a vicious sectarian conflict that nearly turned into complete civil war.
   
But those armed groups still remain, and there are deep concerns whether Iraqi security forces are capable of keeping them in check without the help of US troops. Iraq's military chief of staff, Lt Gen Babaker Zebari said on Sunday that his troops were up to the task of uprooting militant groups.
   
"There are only scattered terrorists hiding here and there and we are seeking intelligence information to eliminate them," Zebari said. "We are confident that there will be no danger."
   
Equally worrying, the resentments and bitterness between the Shiite majority and Sunni minority in this country of 31 million remain unhealed.

(Agencies)