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In Iraq, Thousands Protest for Better Services

Protesters chant anti-government slogans during a demonstration in Baghdad, Iraq, March 4, 2011

Thousands of Iraqis took to the streets in cities and towns across the country on Friday, calling for better public services and demanding the government clean up corruption.

News reports say Iraqi security forces used batons to disperse protesters who rallied in the southern city of Basra.

Meanwhile, a government ban on vehicles in Baghdad and other cities, announced late Thursday, meant some protesters were forced to walk many kilometers to reach the demonstrations.

This is the second Friday Iraqis have protested, joining a wave of anti-government protests across the Middle East and North Africa.

Chanting demonstrators massed in other cities, including Mosul and Nasiriya.

Last Friday, clashes between security forces and protesters caused some 14 deaths across the nation.

In response to the unrest, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki cut his own pay and increased funding for food programs for the needy. On Sunday, he gave his cabinet 100 days to improve or be fired.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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