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Iraqi Prime Minister Says Protesters Causing 'Chaos'

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki gives a speech to a police unit in Baghdad on January 9.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is accusing antigovernment protesters of abusing their freedoms and causing "chaos."

Demonstrations have swept Sunni-majority areas of Iraq for two weeks, causing transport disruptions.

Protesters say Maliki's Shi'ite-led government persecutes the country's Sunni Muslim minority.

They are calling for the release of prisoners and the reform of antiterrorism legislation.

In a speech in Baghdad on January 9, Maliki said the cabinet had formed a committee to consider some of the protesters' demands, but added that the security forces could still intervene.

In the western, Sunni-dominated province of Anbar, the authorities closed a border crossing with Jordan on January 9 until further notice, citing disruptions to transport and trade.

The move came as demonstrators continued to block a highway to Syria and Jordan as part of the antigovernment protests.

Based on reporting by AFP, dpa, and Reuters