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More Protests In Baghdad

Protesters in Baghdad's Tahrir Square on Friday (March 11, 2011).
Jonathan Blakley/NPR
Protesters in Baghdad's Tahrir Square on Friday (March 11, 2011).

Protesters have rallied in Baghdad for the third consecutive Friday — and the fourth time in three weeks — demanding better services, more jobs and an end to government corruption.

Security forces lined the streets of central Baghdad with riot gear. Authorities didn't bother issuing a curfew or banning traffic in the normally congested city, but entrances into Baghdad province were blocked to motor vehicles. At times, traffic passed through Baghdad's Tahrir Square as the protesters, numbering between 500 and 1,000, shouted into megaphones and waved anti-government banners.

There was one small skirmish between protesters and police in the square and a few rocks and water bottles were thrown at police. But this and the prior two protests in Baghdad remained relatively peaceful, a sharp contrast to the violence that marred the protests at Tahrir Square and in other Iraqi cities on Feb. 26 — when at least 10 people were killed and scores were arrested.

There were also protests reported Friday in the Iraqi cities of Fallujah, Diwaniya, Basrah and Sulimaniya, where one protester reportedly tried to set himself ablaze, reminiscent of the incident in Tunisia that sparked the protests across the Arab world earlier this year.

Earlier in the week — on Monday's anniversary of Iraq's elections — protesters also took to the streets in a day many have now dubbed the "Day of Regret."

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Jonathan Blakley