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Thousands of students join Baghdad protests after overnight clashes

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Thousands of students flocked to central Baghdad’s Tahrir Square on Monday following clashes between protesters and security forces in the Iraqi capital and other provinces.

“University and school students joined protesters who have been camping for months in the square. They were carrying Iraqi flags and chanting slogans demanding appointment of a new prime minister,” protesters said.

Clashes erupted between protesters and security forces early on Monday, when demonstrators in several provinces tried to block main roads linking major cities.

Security forces used tear gas to disperse protesters, who wanted to block the roads to disrupt schools, universities and public offices, in an effort to put more pressure on the government.

In Baghdad, black smoke caused by protesters burning tyres was seen in streets around the square.

According to the Iraqi News Agency, all roads that protesters attempted to block in Baghdad were reopened by security forces.

Following the unrest, several governors announced a public holiday on Monday, including in the Districts of Diwaniya, Babel and Nassiriyah.

Street protests have roiled Iraq since October. Demonstrators want a new government and parliament, as well as an overhaul of the political system, which has been in place since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Repeated reform promises from the country’s politicians have failed to assuage the angry, predominantly young protesters.

Edited by: Hadiza Mohammed/Isaac Aregbesola

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