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Anti-government protests continue in Iraq

Anti-government protesters in Iraq's capital have shut down key roads.

Anti-government protesters in Iraq’s capital have shut down key roads.

Schools and government offices are also closed in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities Sunday, the start of the work week in the Muslim-majority country, as the demonstrators take to the streets to demand change in the country’s political system.

A demonstration Saturday in Baghdad was held in defiance of a government crackdown.

Tens of thousands of Iraqis gathered Friday in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square in the largest anti-government demonstration since protests began a month ago.

Flag-waving protesters filled the square and the boulevards leading into it on Friday, the Muslim main day of prayer.

The protests, which began a month ago, have increased in size in recent days, with demonstrators defying security forces that have killed scores of people. Security and medical officials say at least 225 people have died in the past month, including five people who died Friday from wounds sustained earlier.

Some of the protesters Friday directed their anger toward Iran, which has close ties to some political parties in the country.

The protests are leaderless, without an organizational structure, and they are not unified.

However, they have drawn a wide swath of the population from across the country’s sectarian and ethnic divides, demanding an end to Iraq’s widespread corruption, unemployment, and poor government services.

Amnesty International said security forces have fired military-grade tear gas grenades directly into the crowds in Baghdad, causing large-scale injuries.

A move in Iraq’s parliament to approve a bill to cancel privileges and bonuses for senior politicians, including the president, prime minister and Cabinet ministers, has done little to calm the marchers.

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